The great foreign aid fraud exposed

By December 4, 2016February 18th, 2021No Comments

Exposed, the foreign aid giant which conned MPs with fake glowing testimonials about overseas work to snaffle £329 million of taxpayers’ cash

Staff at Adam Smith International drafted glowing testimonials to MPs

Passed them off as submissions from foreign politicians and officials

Attempt to ensure company’s lucrative contracts worth £329m not cut

By Ian Birrell for The Mail on Sunday

4 December 2016

Fat cat foreign aid contractors paid millions by the taxpayer tried to deceive MPs and protect their lucrative business by faking glowing testimonials about their work overseas, it can be revealed today.

Bosses at Adam Smith International (ASI) organised the sending of supportive statements to a powerful MPs’ committee investigating the vast profits made by so-called ‘poverty barons’ on the back of Britain’s huge foreign aid spending.

They passed them off as independent submissions from senior foreign politicians and officials – but they were drafted by the firm’s staff.

It was a brazen attempt to ensure the company’s 36 lucrative contracts – worth £329 million – were not cut after The Mail on Sunday’s startling exposé of Britain’s £12 billion foreign aid giveaway.

But ASI’s astonishing scam was foiled when sharp-eyed officials at the International Development Committee (IDC) realised they were being bombarded by submissions that all had suspiciously similar praise for the firm’s work.

A whistleblower, horrified by the deceit, leaked incriminating emails from the firm to The Mail on Sunday that reveal the extraordinary lengths to which they went to cover their tracks.

The messages reveal how a senior ASI director in one case warned staff writing fake statements not to pretend to be ‘illiterate farmers’ writing in ‘perfect English’.

In another astonishing email, the same executive wrote: ‘We need to take care that an ASI employee is not identified as the creator.’

Seemingly fearing detection, he said ‘it will look suspicious’ if all submissions were identical.

One foreign dignitary said he was later given a ‘letter of recommendation’ to sign. He was angry when he discovered it was to be used as part of the firm’s submission to the inquiry.

The emails also raise questions over involvement of the Department for International Development (DFID), which has come under increasing pressure over doling out massive sums abroad amid public spending cuts at home.

The emails say the testimonies were ordered by DFID and claim officials would ‘nudge’ any aid beneficiaries reluctant to play ball.

The damning dossier of leaked messages also reveals that:

One of the secret documents – marked ‘Official Sensitive’ on every page – reveals that it is ‘certain’ that some of the British taxpayers’ money sent to Somalia will be diverted to Islamic State;

A former DFID official who now works for Adam Smith International illegally obtained confidential Whitehall reports to help the company bid for new contracts;

Ministers are still handing £70 million this year in bilateral aid to India, despite this fast-growing economy having its own space programme.

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