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A pretty big day for journalism in Oman today, the first printed coverage from a national paper on the ongoing corruption investigations into employees at PDO, the Government and Galfar. We've all known about this story in some form or another for a few months now but I've not felt comfortable writing about it until now - Muscat Daily ran a piece in it's paper today reporting that the head of the tender board for PDO, Juma al Hinai (a Government position), has been charged by Public Prosecution for taking a bribe from employees of Galfar Engineering & Contracting for extending a lucrative Contract. So the story goes, Abdulmajeed Nushad paid off an undisclosed sum of money to Juma al Hinai on behalf of Dr P Mohammed Ali, the MD of Galfar.

A quick look at the top management of Galfar does not net Mr Nushad's name, but after googling, it looks like Mr Nushad is, or possibly was now, the head of GGD Catering, the Sultanates "Premier Facilities Management Services Provider". [EDIT - Mr Nushad from GGD is not the same person that's involved in the case, based on some comments below - I did cite my reference but I got it wrong, and I have made a mistake, and apologise to Mr Nushad from GGD].

So the rumours go, when Juma was arrested (back in September) his house was searched and a significant sum of cash was found there. Amusingly, he was on emergency leave for a "family issue" to his colleagues at work. Yes, I guess that family issue was the fact he'd been arrested for taking a bribe.... or bribes? Apparently the cash in his possession, by his own admission is from "known sources" and that he has a company that "deals in real estate". Doesn't that strike you as a conflict of interest? Perhaps not, I guess it is possible to walk that line, but when was the last time you bought a house for cash?

The good Dr of course has no idea what all of this about, and is pointing his fingers back at Juma and saying, "I know nothing". Of course not old bean, they just arrested you for fun mate, you did after all just "bag" (someone shoot that idiot at ToO who constantly uses that phrase) a special award for leadership at the recent Construction Awards ceremony earlier this month.

Now, there are a great deal more rumours flying around town, but until charges are made (some arrests were made in September) I'm not really comfortable writing about it here. But in case you are one of the few who haven't heard the gossip... there are some more BIG companies in town that have been found to not be strictly above board in their dealings, as well as even some people in Government positions too. There's rumours flying around of frozen accounts, forensic accounting investigations dating back 20 years, financing of terrorism and much, much more.

Some of these companies are publicly traded, and so, just like Galfar (if convicted), they will have to announce to the market that they've been very naughty boys.

Interestingly, amid all of these corruption investigations, HM signed and ratified a deal with the UN Convention against Corruption earlier this week (21st November - Royal Decree 64/2013) - something that's been on his to-do list since 2003!

Times are changing it seems, the more rocks the investigators turn up, the more they follow the trail, I wonder who else will be found to have been on the take.

le fin.

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