21st Mar 2018


Security firm wins EU contract despite tax problem

  • Kabul street: the contract is the largest one in the EU's private security portfolio (Photo: russavia)

British private security firm Page Group has scooped a contract to protect EU diplomats in Afghanistan, but faces delays over local tax compliance.

A Page Group spokesperson confirmed to EUobserver on Thursday (14 March) that "this company's tender for the provision of security services at the EU delegation has been accepted."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The contract, worth between €30 million and €50 million over the next four years, is to see it provide at least 100 security guards as well as mobile patrol teams and armoured vehicles to protect EU staff, their families and visiting VIPs.

The EU complex in Kabul houses about 75 EU personnel when fully staffed.

The dangers of the job were highlighted in 2011 when a bullet hit the window of the EU ambassador's office, and earlier in 2010, when a rocket exploded 70 metres away from him at a tribal meeting in the Afghan capital.

Page Group beat off rival bids from British-Emirati firm Sabre International, Canada's GardaWorld and French company Geos to get the deal.

It was in a good position because it has already been working for the EU in the war-torn country for several years.

But the award is controversial for financial reasons.

The EU has postponed the publication of its decision in the Official Journal, which gives it legal force, because Page Group is not up to date with tax returns to Afghan authorities.

The British firm said its old contract has instead been extended until 30 June.

In the meantime, it is trying to catch up with paperwork. "The Afghan finance ministry recently changed the dates of its financial year. We are in the process of filing returns to comply with the new tax year," it noted.

A contact in the private security sector told this website that Page Group owes Afghanistan money.

"It's just like Libya. In Libya, G4S had no authorisation to work, but the EEAS [European External Action Service] gave it the contract anyway. Here, Page Group has no authorisation to work because it's not in line with fiscal rules, but the EEAS gave it the contract anyway," the source said.

The EU last year gave British firm G4S a €10 million contract to protect its staff in Libya.

But it was forced to bin the deal when Libyan authorities complained that G4S did not have a permit to operate in the country.

Meanwhile, an EU source told this website that Page Group should have been excluded from the Afghanistan tender due to other discrepancies.

The contact said it overcharged the EU mission to the tune of €1 million in the 2008 to 2009 period by, for instance, claiming fees for guards who were never posted, in an accounting dispute which continues to rumble on behind the scenes.

"This is EU taxpayers' money. The European Commission should have excluded them from bidding for any further work until the matter is fully cleared up," the source noted.

For its part, Page Group denied that there are any problems.

It said the Afghan tax issue is "not relevant" for its eligibility to do EU work. It added that the overpayment allegations are "incorrect."

The EEAS declined to answer any questions for the time being.

"We cannot comment on ongoing procurement procedures. The results will be published in the EU Official Journal in the normal manner," its spokesman, Michael Mann, said.

EU bins security contract, annoys Libya

The EU foreign service has cancelled a €10 million contract with British security firm G4S in a minor diplomatic dispute with Libya.

EU men with guns: A comedy of errors

The EU foreign service just did a U-turn on a €50mn tender for bodyguards in Kabul, with leaked documents posing questions how a British firm with a frightening track record won it in the first place.

US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Washington would still like to block a planned gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but is not yet considering hitting companies involved in the project.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines
  2. Tusk: EU must 'continue to engage' with US on trade
  3. European elections set for 23-26 May 2019
  4. EU tries to find common candidate for top UN food job
  5. Facebook post triggers Norway no-confidence vote
  6. Merkel: 'no reason' to sanction Schroeder for Russia support
  7. MEPs and Council strike deal on posted workers' rights
  8. EU parliament to investigate Facebook data 'breach'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?