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Cipro probe completed

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The investigation into the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro) has been wrapped up.

The independent investigation firm, commissioned to conduct the probe, says it is ready to submit its report.

Specialised Security Group (SSG) spokesman Warren Goldblatt says the investigation team would submit its report to trade and industry minister Rob Davies tomorrow, but would not give further details.

The investigation was prompted by allegations of fraud and corruption at Cipro, resulting in Davies appointing a team to look into the various aspects of the agency, including a controversial R153 million electronic content management (ECM) tender, awarded to ValorIT.

Allegations of tender rigging involving this deal resulted in Cipro CIO Michael Twum-Darko being placed on special leave two weeks ago, to prevent him from interfering with the investigation.

Twum-Darko, meanwhile, has denied the allegations, saying he is the victim of a racist plot, driven by white former Cipro executives, who want to oust him.

ValorIT chairman Josias Molele has also dismissed any involvement of his company in the allegations, saying Twum-Darko being placed on special leave is an internal Cipro matter.

However, he also says the company has been the victim of a racist plot, aimed at derailing the ECM project. Rival bidder for the tender, Mantra Consulting, protested the awarding of the contract in March last year and called for the contract to be scrapped.

he company subsequently took ValorIT to court, over outstanding consultation fees of R10 million. It further alleged in its legal action that ValorIT received confidential Cipro information, giving it an edge in the tender process.

Goldblatt this morning stated SSG would submit its report to the minister and await further instruction. He emphasised, however, that investigation did not focus on any specific company, but rather on what went wrong at Cipro and its management.

“The minister and his staff are absolutely adamant to clean up Cipro. The investigation was focused on looking at the management and systems, and seeing where the weaknesses are. Rob Davies is committed to sorting out the problems at Cipro and this is a very positive thing.”

Web site woes

Meanwhile, Cipro’s Web site has been chronically plagued by problems over the past few months, supposedly due to the implementation of the ECM system, which has stalled.

However, Cipro head of communications Elsabé Conradie says in a statement that the most recent problem was caused by a server, serving external customers, being corrupted. “Further investigation iscontinuing to determine what caused the failure of the server and finding a suitable solution.”

Conradie says that, while the investigation is continuing, a temporary solution has been put in place to assist customers with online registrations and lodging annual returns.

“Both internal and external customers are currently being served by the same server, which might result in the Web site being slow from time to time. Customers are, therefore, requested to read the notices and messages Cipro will scroll on the Web site, regarding changes or status of the site,” she notes.

She explains that earlier problems, during December 2009 and January 2010, were also due to technical problems.

“A solution was found and the Web site was stabilised, until two weekends ago, when the network system was upgraded. Unfortunately, the upgrade took longer than anticipated and the Cipro Web site was only active on the following Wednesday.”