Auditors criticise $7bn Mexican tender process that Declan Ganley’s Rivada alleged was ‘rigged’

Irishman’s telecoms business lost out to Mexican-led Altan consortium

Rivada Networks, controlled by Galway businessman Declan Ganley, is "evaluating its legal options" after a damning report for the Mexican government highlighted irregularities in a $7 billion (€5.7 billion) mobile network tender which Rivada has argued in court was "rigged" against it.

A state audit last month of the Red Compartida tender, which was to build a wholesale mobile network in Mexico, found a litany of errors in the tendering process, which was won in 2016 by Rivada's rival, a Mexican-led group known as the Altan consortium.

The report was by Mexico’s superior comptroller of the federation, a state funds auditing body. It examined the tender that was run by the SCT, the Mexican government’s department of communications.

It found a number of inconsistencies in Altan’s bid, such as problems with its technical and economic offers and missing paperwork, as well as a failure to record discrepancies in the Altan bid.


Bidding bar

Rivada, meanwhile, was barred from bidding for Red Compartida on technical grounds, which at the time prompted accusations of corruption against some Mexican officials.

The Irishman’s company is currently pursuing two lawsuits in Mexico over its exclusion from the tender, which left the way free for the only remaining bidder, Altan, which has at all times denied any wrongdoing.

Rivada is awaiting a ruling on a constitutional appeal in Mexico, in which it argues it was improperly disqualified and can seek damages if it wins. It cannot introduce the audit as new evidence at this stage of the case, however.

Chinese links

The other case is a so-called “nullity” suit, in which it argues that Altan is not eligible to own a mobile network in Mexico, in part because it has some links to the Chinese state. The audit may assist Rivada in that case.

“Rivada will continue to pursue all of the legal remedies available under Mexican law,” the company said. “Rivada, the pioneer in open access wholesale wireless technologies, has always thought that Red Compartida was an excellent concept. We still hold to that view.”

In November 2016, Mr Ganley publicly alleged that Rivada had been “stitched up” in the two-horse Red Compartida race.

He alleged a mystery hijacker on a motorcycle attempted to steal his consortium’s bidding documents as they were being delivered to authorities in Mexico city ahead of a submission deadline.

Rivada was later excluded from the process for allegedly not including a letter of credit, although it always maintained it submitted all the documentation.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times