It seems that the transparency and fair play previously assured in bidding process of the now dormant Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) has been undermined, according to a report in The News (Monrovia).

According to credible sources, a dubious deal has been suspected owing to pressure from a very senior Government official (name withheld) who has influenced the extension in the date of the bidding process in order to allow a particular company to submit its bid.

That company, according to our sources, did not meet the deadline set for the submission of bids. It is apparently an "interest" of a top government official.

The sources hinted that the LTC Board Chairman Francis Karpeh was called on the evening of January 16, allegedly by this senior government official to extend the date from January 17 to the 24th.

But when contacted Wednesday last week, Karpeh, a former Minister of Finance, denied any interference by a senior official of government in the process as claimed by our sources.

According to Karpeh, the date for the submission of bids was extended because of "technical and organizational" reasons and that the transparency and fair play earlier assured by Government was still assured.

The LTC Board Chairman disclosed how the Chairman of the bidding Committee, Francis Nyenpan, was out of the country and up to the evening of January 16, they as Board members were not sure that Nyenpan was in town. "This is why we had to extend the submission ceremony," Mr. Karpeh said.

He could not say whether or not the extension of the ceremony was published in line with the Interim Public Procurement Policy and Procedures document.

Article 24 of the document under the sub-title, "Submission of Bids" states that "the procuring entity shall, at least in ten days before the bid, give notice of an extension of the deadline by a publication in the same media used to publish invitation for bids, fax, e-mail or any other expedited written means of communication to each supplier or contractor to whom the Procuring Entity provided the bid document or to any new prospective bidders."

At the same time, investigation conducted by this paper indicates that a group presently bidding to take over Telecom is reportedly on record for defrauding the Liberian Government in the mid 1980s.