MONTREAL – Embattled engineering company SNC-Lavalin says allegations in published reports that a subsidiary used a code to account for bribes on several projects across Africa and Asia have been resolved and are history.
The company says it is focused on moving ahead with systems that would prevent the problems from re-occurring.
The Globe and Mail and CBC reported Wednesday the company paid “consultancy costs” between 2008 and 2011 to win several development contracts.
The payments are described as PCCs — project consultancy cost or project commercial cost. But former SNC engineer Mohammad Ismail, who agreed to examine the documents obtained by CBC and the Globe, was quoted in the published reports as saying the real intention was to bribe.
Ismail faces charges in Toronto on attempted bribery in Bangladesh, but agreed to comment on projects in other countries. A preliminary hearing in his case was held last month and he as been ordered to stand trial.
The Globe and CBC reported SNC-Lavalin International, which has been barred from bidding on World Bank projects for 10 years over projects in Bangladesh and Cambodia, included “consultancy costs” in 13 projects.
SNC-Lavalin’s reputation has been tarnished since it disclosed in March 2012 that $56 million in improper payments were made to undisclosed foreign agents.
Chief executive Pierre Duhaime was “relieved of his duties” and later charged with fraud over $22.5 million in payments relating to a hospital project in Montreal. During a February hearing, he pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and issuing false documents.
Former vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa has been held in a Swiss jail for more than a year, was also charged with fraud in Canada.
Ben Aissa was arrested in April 2012 in Switzerland and is awaiting a trial there on charges relating to alleged corruption, fraud and money-laundering in North Africa.