AltaLink’s Parent Company SNC-Lavalin Corruption Probe in Bangladesh
Details are emerging of the SNC-Lavalin corruption probe surrounding the Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh. The World Bank and the Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission have been investigating the manner in which SNC-Lavalin moved to the top of the bidding list for the lucrative project.
World Bank investigators allege that after a meeting between a former Bangladeshi communications minister and two SNC-Lavalin officials – Kevin Wallace (then senior VP of SNC’s Oakville office) and Ramesh Shah – “Mr. Shah jotted down how much would go to the minister and to a senior bureaucrat as a bribe. SNC then went from being second in contention for the project to first. This alleged sequence of events outlined in the letter offers a rare look into the mechanics of an alleged bribe – what the World Bank describes as a ‘criminal conspiracy’ that stalled Bangladesh’s most significant infrastructure project. The letter, leaked to media in Dhaka and obtained by the Globe and Mail, is also the first detailed glimpse of the allegations against SNC in Bangladesh, one of four countries where the blue-chip Montreal company is being investigated on suspicion of using bribery to win contracts.” (Globe and Mail)
Kevin Wallace, until his sudden departure in early December 2012, had most recently been the President of SNC’s wholly owned subsidiary, Candu Energy Inc. See this link for more details on this story.
Meanwhile, former SNC President and CEO Jacques Lamarre blames SNC-Lavalin’s current corruption investigation troubles on foreign agents who broke the company’s guidelines (CBC News). Lamarre recently told CBC, “We have all been abused by Monsieur Riadh Ben Aissa…All the sources of our troubles (are) coming from him.” Riadh Ben Aissa is currently jailed in Switzerland on numerous charges including money laundering and influencing foreign officials, accused of directing $160 million in kickbacks to Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saadi, for numerous lucrative projects SNC won in Libya.
Ben Aissa’s brother, Dr. Rafik Ben Aissa, continues to defend his brother and sued SNC-Lavalin in early November 2012 to try and clear his name. Most recently, Dr. Ben Aissa referred to Jacques Lamarre’s statements about “SNC Lavalin having been abused by Riadh Ben Aissa” as “absurd and a disgrace” (PR Web). Dr. Ben Aissa continued, “We reiterate that my brother did everything with the blessing of the SNC Lavalin Board of trustees. SNC Lavalin continues to use my brother as a scapegoat in its past dealings with North Africa regimes… Not only the SNC Lavalin’s board of trustees funded, encouraged, and supported my brother’s business ventures in Libya and Algeria, but over 27 years of employment they had created a whole department dedicated to Libya with its own lawyers and support staff. As mentioned in our legal actions (Montreal Superior Court file 500-1707-4573-125), all the money wired was never hidden. These were visible transactions that were approved by the Board of trustees. Every member of SNC Lavalin’s Board of trustees knew precisely where the money was going.”