It’s been a four year wait, but it looks like we’re finally seeing the Cooper regime at the Department of Justice DO SOMETHING. The DOJ has issued an ”Investigative Demand” to I-77 Mobility Partners, the entity empowered by NCDOT, the legislature and the governor’s office to build and manage the toll lanes in Northern Mecklenburg County. It’s not pleasant to receive one of these demands. It’s an experience along the lines of being told you’re the subject of an IRS audit, or that your arms and legs will be amputated, or that you have DAYS to live.
We’ve followed this toll issue extensively since then-speaker Thom Thilli$ and Gov. Pat McCrory were strong-arming the deal through the legislature. The dispute between the Raleigh crowd and local residents has racked up a lot of courtroom time and produced a primary challenger to McCrory. Thilli$ was able to survive the controversy to make it to DC for a six year stint. But many others still in office in Raleigh and locally in Mecklenburg County have not been — or will not be — as lucky.
Cornelius resident and anti-toll activist Diane Gilroy has scored some important political hits on the toll project recently. She’s taken her concerns to the head of The World Bank, and to the Inspector General of North Carolina:
Re: NCDOT Contract with I77 Mobility Partners (Cintra Infraestructuras) is invalid due to pending lawsuits and convictions against Ferrovial Agromán and Ferrovial S.A. in Spain and the United States. Ferrovial is Cintra’s parent company.
Also, the Louis Berger Group (LBG), the Lead Design Firm on the project has been debarred by the World Bank until February 2016 and it continues to be debarred by the Asian Development Bank (since 2006). Additionally, LBG has been accused and convicted of major fraud and corruption by the US Attorney’s Office as reported by the FBI. The firm wasted millions of dollars in tax payer money and put our troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan.
Please cancel the contract for the I-77 HOT lanes and investigate the NCDOT’s proposal process for corruption as well.
Dear Inspector General Morton,
Over the past few years, my husband, Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy, many business leaders, politicians, the Widen I-77 (no tolls) group and the majority of the 1.5 million citizens in Iredell and North Mecklenburg have been fighting against the proposed NCDOT toll lanes project with I-77 Mobility Partners (Cintra with Ferrovial Agromán as the financially responsible party). These special lanes will create elite and unequal access to public roads. Only the wealthy will be able to afford to use the HOT lanes while the rest of the citizens will be discriminated against and forced to wait in traffic. The tolls during peak times could be up to $20 one way.
I have discovered in Spanish court documents and newspapers (I teach Spanish at a local university) that Ferrovial Agromán, the construction division of Cintra’s parent company Ferrovial, S.A. is a criminal organization with a plethora of lawsuits, convictions, and grievances against it. This is relevant because they are the financially responsible party in the contract. I will argue that the contract signed by the NCDOT with Cintra Infraestructuras (AKA I-77 Mobility Partners) is completely invalid and should be cancelled immediately.
In addition, I will discuss the World Bank’s debarment of the Louis Berger Group (LBG) based in New Jersey and the criminal indictments from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Cintra/Ferrovial and LBG are companies that should be banned from doing business in North Carolina.
According to page 879 Exhibit 19-B of the Form of the Financial Close Certificate of the Comprehensive Agreement signed by the NCDOT and I-77 Mobility Partners (Cintra/Ferrovial Agroman) on June 26, 2014, the following statements must prevail in order for the contract to be valid (Also, the recent financial closings (May 2015) needed to take this information into account and any new pending litigation needed to come forward and be disclosed):
- Case of bribing CDC Political Party in Barcelona, Spain in order to be awarded over 1 billion euros worth of public contracts.
Ferrovial Agromán was accused of one of the largest cases of bribery and fraud in Catalonia’s history with bribes in excess of 6 million euros. In a 37 page court document dated June 14, 2013 in Barcelona (I have this document from Barcelona in a PDF format), Attorney Emilio Sánchez Ulled(from the Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime division of the Ministry of Justice) details how Ferrovial paid “illegal commissions” to “individuals with sufficient political influence on the agencies in charge of awarding large-scale public contracts.” This includes the Line 9 Metro project worth 890,000,000 and the City of Justice (Barcelona) project that is estimated at around 263,035,900 euros.
This was a landmark case in which Ferrovial used the “Palau de la Música” concert hall in Barcelona to funnel these illegal bribes to the politicians. They pretended to be a sponsor of the arts. The money arrived at the CDC in 3 ways: 1. Cash disbursements to CDC treasurers Carles Torrent and Daniel Osácar (2000-2007) 2. False documentation (2005-2009). Five companies charged Palau for nonexistent work or services. 3. There was an agreement between Palau and the Trias Fargas Foundation.
1: The NCDOT was grossly negligent and it failed to investigate Ferrovial/Cintra and also the Louis Berger Group. It did not do its homework for an important project that will impact the lives of NC citizens for the next 50 years.
- The NCDOT deliberately concealed criminal information and manipulated the outcome of the vote on this toll lane project. Politicians would not have voted for this project if they were aware of all of the criminal proceedings against Ferrovial/Cintra and the Louis Berger Group. If this is the case, a criminal investigation into the NCDOT should take place immediately. The entire organization would need to be restructured and top individuals should be removed from the NCDOT. Criminal hearings against NCDOT officials should take place. Also, the NCDOT stated that all bidders dropped out of the process and they only had one bid by March 31, 2014.
Gilroy’s letter lays out the facts about charges of bribery, corruption and negligence that have been leveled in Europe and domestically against this partner with the state of North Carolina in this highway project.
Gilroy and her fellow toll opponents have even produced legal opinions suggesting that the toll deal was structured so the Spanish contractor will never actually have to share ANY revenue with the State of North Carolina.