Monday

23rd Jan 2017

Investigation

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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections

Far-right leaders Le Pen, Wilders, Petry and others gathered in Koblenz in the hope of gaining political momentum ahead of national elections this year. The event was met with thousands of protestors.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden to host EU social summit
  2. US Congress may Trump-proof Russia sanctions
  3. Fury over UK 'cover up' of failed missile test
  4. Theresa May: I will not be afraid to stand up to Trump
  5. Brexit will destroy NI peace deal, says Gerry Adams
  6. EU housing price increase by 4.3%
  7. EU trade chief says UK deal will take 'couple of years'
  8. German defence spending boost not enough for Nato goal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  2. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  3. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  4. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  5. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  6. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  7. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  8. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  9. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  10. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  11. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London

Latest News

  1. EU says milk protest 'difficult to understand'
  2. Future of euro on EU agenda This WEEK
  3. Pope warns populism could lead to 'saviours' like Hitler
  4. How the EU can protect the world’s forest by tackling corruption
  5. Leftist newcomer takes lead in French Socialist primary
  6. Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections
  7. Trump pledges US-first foreign policy
  8. GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room