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LAHORE, Oct 13: In what seems to be a case of conflict of interest, the Lahore Electric Supply Company’s Board of Director chairman, a lawyer by profession, is representing Lesco suppliers and vendors in different courts.

Though other board members have been protesting his work ethics, Mr Rafay Alam argues: “Since it is declared thing, it does not constitute conflict of interest. If ever one of my clients bids in Lesco, I would not be part of the process.”

The other members, however, insist it is a clear case of “conflict of interest or at least inside trading,” where as company’s chairman Mr Alam has all the information about the bidding process and he is also in a position to influence the decisions and on the other hand he representing the suppliers in the court.

“He consolidated his position in the bid evaluation when he forced his nomination in the technical committee, which technically evaluates every bid,” says one of the directors.

How a lawyer, with no knowledge of engineering, could technically judge a bid for transformers or domestic meters, he asked and added: “But he got himself included in the committee and then started recruiting vendors as his clients.”

According to details, Multan Electric Supply Company (Mepco) floated a tender in May last (MEPCO/MMM/WB/ELR/ICB/12) for 200KVA transformers. One of the bidders hired the Lesco board chairman to represent it in a writ it had already filed with the Multan Bench of the Lahore High Court. The chairman duly moved a civil miscellaneous petition and became a party to the whole process.

Meanwhile, the Lesco floated a tender (ICB-631-01) for the procurement of 40MVA transformers. A sister company of the client of the chairman, having the same postal address, was also among the bidders for the transformers, which alarmed everyone except Mr Alam.

“No one is accusing the chairman of downright corruption but the evident conflict of interest was pointed out to him on more than one occasions,” says another board member. How would he come clean on the issue, with one of his client paying for representing him in a court and receiver of the money evaluating the bid of his client? Nowhere in the world of corporate governance, which the board is supposed to bring to the company, such behaviour is allowed. Despite accusatory electronic mails (e-mails), debate and even exchange of harsh words among the board members, no one has been able to convince chairman that it was “immoral if not illegal,” he said.

Mr Rafay Alam defended his case saying: “I had no knowledge of any of my clients bidding for transformers for Lesco, till it was pointed out. Even then, since it is a declared act (me representing a supplier), it does not constitute any conflict of interest. The articles of association of the company also do not recognise it a conflict of interest either. But I certainly would not be sitting on the technical committee when that particular bid comes up for evaluation.”