Peru is in the midst of yet another major corruption scandal, this one involving a cartel of companies called the Construction Club. The Club allegedly operated as a bid-rigging cartel for major public construction works, in which the members of the Club would decide which one of them would win any given public contract and at what price, and the other Club members would deliberately submit higher bids to create the illusion of a competitive process. What started as an antitrust scandal has turned into a corruption scandal, as the Club is also accused of bribing public officials (including former President Vizcarra) to “guarantee the functioning of the cartel”.
The alleged bribery and bid-rigging are shocking but not surprising. This sort of corruption is all too common in the public procurement process in Peru and elsewhere (see here, here, and here). The vulnerability to corruption stems largely from the lack of accountability and transparency in the public procurement process, as well as the lack of professionalism in the public service. Can anything be done to address these longstanding problems? While there is no simple or overnight solution, there are in fact a number of measures that Peru can and should adopt to address the corruption vulnerabilities in its public procurement process and reduce the likelihood of another incident like the Club scandal recurring in the future.