31 March 2006 | Anusha Bradley
British-based catering firm Compass Group is facing further allegations of bribery and corruption over United Nations contracts.
Competitor Es-Ko this week filed a complaint in a US district court in New York. It follows similar allegations by another competitor Supreme Foodservice filed in the same court earlier this month.
Es-Ko, based in Monaco, accuses Compass and vendor intermediary IHC Services of a "criminal scheme and conspiracy to rig bidding for hundreds of millions of dollars of United Nations contracts for food".
Es-Ko claims IHC Services and Compass's subsidiary ESS bribed former UN procurement officer Alexander Yakovlev to leak confidential information about competitors bids causing them to lose $574 million worth of UN food contracts in nine countries between 1999 and 2005.
The complaint said Compass and ESS "illegally and improperly used confidential pricing and other information to underbid Es-Ko's proposals".
Es-Ko is seeking at least £125 million in damages from Compass.
Yakovlev last year pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud charges following a UN investigation into the oil-for-food scandal. It is not known whether these charges relate to any Compass contracts. Yakovlev is awaiting sentence.
Compass said in a statement: "The damages claimed bear no relation to the value of the UN contracts awarded to ESS and the complaint will be resolutely defended."