Former UN Consultants Convicted for African HIV Drug Scam

By Paul Gaita 10/01/15

Two Dutch nationals were caught fleecing the Congo over a life-saving drug.

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Sijbrandus “Art” Scheffer
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A pair of Dutch nationals and former consultants for the United Nations were convicted in the United Kingdom of accepting bribes for helping a pharmaceutical company in landing contracts worth millions of British pounds to provide life-saving drugs in Africa.

Guido Bakker, 41, and Sijbrandus “Art” Scheffer, 63, operated a company called World Response Consulting, which brokered contracts for the UN’s Development Program to fight the spread of HIV and malaria in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the help of U.N. employee Roberto Garcia, the pair tendered crucial information to a Danish pharmaceutical company called Missionpharma that would help them win the Congo contract.

Bakker and Scheffer then laundered the payments through a firm established by London lawyer Patrick Orr, who distributed the cash through various offshore companies and a slew of high-priced properties in England.

Court documents presented during the proceedings included a 2006 email from Scheffer to Bakker in which he wrote, “Clearly supplying small amounts of grossly overpriced drugs to dying and starving Africans is a very good start.”

The following year, the United Nations launched an investigation into World Response Consulting, which led to the duo’s arrest in 2008. Missionpharma admitted its participation in the scheme in 2011, but were not prosecuted by Danish authorities. Bakker and Scheffer were sentenced to 12 and 15 months in prison, respectively. Orr received a two-year sentence in an earlier separate trial, which was suspended for 12 months.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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