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SNC-Lavalin accused of corruption, again and again


April 1, 2013

Recent reports in the The Globe and Mail have revealed that in December 2011, SNC-Lavalin's then chief executive, Pierre Duhaime, approved payments of $35.5 million relating to a tar sands project that never went ahead. Instead the funds went somewhere in the Middle East. No one at the company will admit to knowing where those funds went or what they were for.
 
This is just the latest revelation in years of scandals at the company.
 
According to the World Bank, SNC-Lavalin won a contract to build a bridge in Bangladesh after offering bribes to a government minister and a senior bureaucrat in the government. The bank says that a senior vice-president from SNC-Lavalin flew to Dhaka in person in May 2011 to negotiate the bribes. The World Bank has withdrawn its offer of a $1.2 billion loan for the project.
 
In Quebec the police are investigating $22 million in payments by the company between April 30, 2009 and August 31, 2011 in its efforts to win the contract to build the McGill University Health Centre’s new $1.3-billion hospital. This public private partnership would have continued to make money for the company over the 30-year lease of the facility to the provincial government. The former chief executive, Pierre Duhaime, has been charged with fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and using forged documents.
 
In Libya SNC-Lavalin won a contract to build a $275-million prison. Building a prison for a dictator is well within Canadian business ethics. However, the relationship between the dictatorship and the company goes further than that, SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa has been arrested by the Swiss for diverting $106 million to the son of deposed Libyan dictator Gadhafi. As well, according to The Globe and Mail during the NATO invasion of Libya, SNC-Lavalin paid a contractor $100,000 to fly to Libya and write a five page report that argued that the NATO invasion was harming the Gadhafi regime's efforts to restore peace. The contractor, Cynthia Vanier, is now in jail in Mexico accused of plotting to smuggle Gadhafi's son into that country.
 
In the late 1990s SNC-Lavalin won a contract to renovate three hydro electric power stations in Kerala State in India. The Indian Express reported in 2009, “Murky deals, flagrant violation of regulations, spiking of expert opinions, unjustifiable price contracts, and several other discrepancies were not mere occasional aberrations but integral part of the renovation work, right from scratch. “ An investigation has found that the Kerala State Electricity Board payed millions to SNC-Lavalin for a project that was several years late and resulted in less electric power generation than before the renovations. The board did not do the required feasibility study until after the deal was signed. The study they did do was conducted by an employee of SNC-Lavalin.
 
In 2012 the company reported profits of $309.1 million. It employees 21,260 people, who each created over $14,500 in profit for the corporation.

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