Contractor suspends three employees as it investigates allegations of ‘improper conduct’ on National Grid job
Balfour Beatty is investigating “allegations of improper conduct” on a £500m National Grid gas mains replacement contract in the West Midlands.
The contractor said last week its investigation had been ongoing for the “past few months”, with three Balfour Beatty “middle-managers” suspended.
The investigation concerns a £500m contract for the National Grid to replace aging gas pipes in the West Midlands.
Balfour Beatty said the investigation was “focused on localised behaviour by a small group of individuals working for Balfour Beatty involved with subcontracting in the West Midlands contract”.
Balfour Beatty was awarded the contract, which is part of the National Grid’s Gas Distribution Strategic Partnership (GDSP), in 2012.
Balfour Beatty added: “There has been no suggestion or evidence of bribery, corruption or any other impropriety in the award of the contract to Balfour Beatty.”
In a statement, workers union the GMB said it understood the investigation was into “allegations of wads of cash changing hands, holidays being paid for and work carried out on individuals’ houses in exchange for work on the contract”.
Gary Smith, national secretary at the GMB, said he understood the allegations included “bullying, mis-reporting, fraud and corruption”.
He added: “We understand that gas mains replacement work, running into tens of millions of pounds in value, may have been tainted by allegations of corrupt practice.”
The GMB said it had “consistently warned” National Grid that the gas mains replacement contracts were “open to - and have been riddled with - abuse”.
Both Balfour Beatty and National Grid declined to comment on the detail of the allegations.
A spokesperson for National Grid said it “requires the highest standard of ethical conduct from all those working on our behalf”.
She added: “We are aware that our contractor Balfour Beatty is investigating allegations of improper conduct associated with the contract for our gas mains replacement activity in the West Midlands, and that they have suspended three of their employees while the investigation is ongoing.
“We are keeping in close touch with Balfour Beatty on their investigation, but it would not be appropriate to comment further until the investigation is concluded.”
Balfour Beatty’s statement:
“Balfour Beatty works extremely closely with National Grid to ensure the highest standards of ethical behaviour are upheld. For the past few months Balfour Beatty has been leading an investigation into allegations of improper conduct on our West Midlands gas mains replacement contract, one of two gas mains replacement contracts we have with National Grid.
There has been no suggestion or evidence of bribery, corruption or any other impropriety in the award of the contract to Balfour Beatty in April 2013.
Following the award of this contract, Balfour Beatty and National Grid put in place controls to prevent inaccurate reporting of work done under the contract. We have found these controls to have been effective and there has been no inaccurate reporting to National Grid or the regulator.
This investigation is focused on localised behaviour by a small group of individuals working for Balfour Beatty involved with subcontracting in the West Midlands contract.
Balfour Beatty has suspended three middle-managers working on the GDSP contract in the West Midlands, while this investigation is on-going.
We cannot comment further while this investigation continues.”