Jardine condemns collusive behavior

Aveng Group CEO, Roger Jardine, spoke out strongly against alleged collusive behaviour in the construction and engineering sector.

“We have a big thorn in the side of our economy. Collusive and anticompetitive behaviour, which appears to have been entrenched in the construction and other sectors of the South African economy, has left our country with a disgraceful economic and ethical legacy that must be rooted out as a matter of urgency.  We need not only the right skills but also the right ethics and values if South Africa is to thrive and jobs are to be created. It is not only the responsibility of elected politicians to foster trust and integrity in our society. The private sector has a vital role to play. This goes to the heart of the society that we want to build.”

Jardine’s statement follows recent media reports on apparent investigations being conducted by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority into allegations of fraud and corruption in the construction industry. These reports follow on the heels of the probe by the Competition Commission into alleged collusive conduct in the sector.

He notes that: “The Aveng Group takes all of these allegations extremely seriously, and we have gone to great lengths to eliminate any such behaviour, including the interviewing of key staff, staff leniency programmes in exchange for information, on-line training, anonymous hotlines for whistle-blowers, and the distribution of a competition law handbook. The efforts of Aveng to eliminate any anti-competitive and unethical practices extend to former employees. Further action, where appropriate and required, will be taken by the Board.”  In its SENS announcement of September 2012 Aveng advised the market that a provision had been raised for a potential penalty by the Competition authorities.

Jardine adds: “I believe that a thorough investigation into the allegations against individuals in the construction sector needs to be conducted, and appropriate action must be taken. It is now even more urgent for the Commission to finalise its investigation”.

“South Africa is on the verge of one of the most significant infrastructure rollouts in our country’s history. A growing economy needs a strong and vibrant infrastructure and engineering sector. It is important that the procurement process around infrastructure projects be handled with integrity and transparency. Public money matched with private sector capacity can deliver an ambitious vision to grow our economy, create jobs and develop our people. For us to deliver sustainable value for all South Africans, each and every stakeholder needs to clean up all elements of the industry and its relationship with its government and private sector clients.”

“I am deeply concerned when I hear young people question the value of honesty in a society that appears plagued with corruption. To them I want to say this: there is no place for corruption, collusion, deals-for-friends or nepotism in the construction industry and in the economy at large. Call it what you like, such behaviour is unacceptable in any sector.  When people take illegal short-cuts to individual wealth they deprive South Africans of their right to services and opportunities. That is no way to build a sustainable country or a prosperous future.”

“Inward-looking is not enough.  Long-standing industry practices cannot be eradicated without collective action by the entire industry. To this end, Aveng has drafted a proposed Code of Conduct for the South African Construction Industry.  We will be calling for all industry bodies to debate the proposal so that we can explicitly agree on the values that will govern this sector. Ultimately, people are the custodians of values and a code of conduct alone will not be sufficient; we must change the culture.”

This is a statement released by Aveng

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