, January 27, 2015

Ordina publishes findings investigation

• Extensive investigation completed
• One case with a clear indication of a possible irregularity
• No indications of structural irregularities
• Several cases of inappropriate behaviour by a limited number of people
• Cases relate to the period 2005–2010
• Integrity programme intensified, compliance structure tightened

Ordina today publishes the findings  of the completed investigation into possible irregularities in tender procedures and contracts in the public sector. The findings of the investigation, which was conducted by law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, describe eight cases. The investigation covered some 1.5 million data items and around 65 interviews. The data items were released using the forensic IT expertise of Fox-IT. The investigation also looked into the corporate culture and client contacts within the Commerce department to date. The investigation uncovered one case with a clear indication of a possible irregularity. In addition, the Management Board believes that there were a few instances of inappropriate behaviour on the part of a limited number of people. There were no indications of structural irregularities, nor evidence of a practice of excessive relationship management, such as expensive gifts or extravagant events. Nor are there any indications of bribery or illegal agreements with competitors.

General findings on the cases
The findings of the investigation describe eight cases, six of which were investigated as a result of questions from the Zembla television programme, as previously outlined in our press release of 9 October 2014. The investigation into the other two cases was initiated as a result of additional signs of possible irregularities which were uncovered in the course of the investigation. The shareholders' circular contains detailed information on the cases.

The Management Board regrets to note that an indication of a possible irregularity has been found in one of the cases, as well as a few instances of inappropriate behaviour on the part of a limited number of people.  By inappropriate behaviour, we mean behaviour that is not in line with the corporate values and standards of our company.

One possible irregularity
• The case that involves a clear indication of a possible irregularity concerns a framework agreement  with the Public Prosecutors’ Office (PPO) from 2009. It appears that, after Ordina was granted the  provisional tender, an employee of the client asked Ordina to amend the price on the bid. It seems  that the price of the bid was indeed amended and the framework agreement was eventually closed  on the basis of that new bid price. We have since contacted the PPO about this case in its capacity  as the contracting party.

Other findings
•  Four cases (three at the IND and one at the Rotterdam city council) pertain to situations in which  there were contacts with clients during a tender procedure or in which (confidential) information  was or may have been divulged. The investigation did not determine that these contacts or any  sharing of information were unlawful.  A number of situations may raise some questions and in  some instances we believe there was some question of inappropriate behaviour on the part of our  (former) employees.
• Another case, involving the IT company of the court organisation ICTRO, revolves around the  extension of a framework agreement at the client’s initiative. The question is whether the agreement  should have been extended in this manner.
• In the other two cases (one at the Defence Ministry and one at the PPO), there seems to have been  no irregularities but a regular sharing of information. 
The tender procedures and contracts cited pertain to the period 2005-2010. Many of the employees involved, including a number of freelancers, have left Ordina in recent years. We have also parted ways with one employee who was still employed at Ordina.  The Management Board is considering disciplinary measures against a limited number of individuals on the basis of the findings of the recent investigation.

Informal culture
Based on the findings of the investigation, Ordina has determined that the culture within the Commerce department at that time was characterised by an enterprising and informal atmosphere, with much being left to the responsibility of individual employees. A small number of people within the team that was responsible for public sector clients formed a subgroup with its own language and operating methods. For them, each potential contract was a top priority. This subgroup presented information internally in ways that sometimes made it seem more interesting than the content probably warranted in order to sell potential contracts internally. The language used could make the situation appear different from the reality. This course of events was at the very least awkward, unfortunate and in some cases inappropriate.  

Ordina’s compliance guidelines at the time offered insufficient guidance, which in some cases resulted in inappropriate behaviour in the contacts with clients and when it came to divulging confidential information.  

No structural irregularities
Based on the findings of the investigation, Ordina concludes that no indications were found of structural irregularities in public sector tender procedures and contracts. The investigation did not uncover evidence of a practice of excessive relationship management, such as expensive gifts or extravagant events. Nor did the investigation reveal any indications of bribery or illegal agreements with competitors.

Integrity programme
The Management Board has taken measures specifically aimed at tightening its existing policy and internal procedures relating to integrity and control. The integrity programme comprises three key components:  

• tightened internal conduct guidelines in areas such as the handling of confidential information,  relationship management and conflicts of interest;
• increasing awareness in the field of compliance, integrity and transparency, through measures  such  as specific training courses and Dilemma & Question sessions to create an open culture through  dialogue; and 
• compliance as an integral part of working processes, with for instance the ‘four-eyes’ principle in  tenders and offers, plus attention devoted to individual responsibility for compliance with regulations  and agreements.  

Stepan Breedveld, CEO Ordina: “We believe in Ordina as a company with integrity and condemn all forms of inappropriate behaviour. We are aware that the findings have an impact on our clients, employees and shareholders. All our stakeholders should be able to trust us blindly. They rightly expect us to abide by the highest standards when it comes to judging appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. Our ambition is to differentiate Ordina in a positive sense in terms of integrity, compliance and transparency. Our integrity programme plays a crucial role in this context.”

¹An extensive shareholder circular with the findings of Ordina’s Management Board on the basis of the
investigation conducted by De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek is available on Ordina’s website.