Canadian Manufacturing

Former SNC-Lavalin exec charged with bribery in ongoing probe

Kevin Wallace charged as part of investigation into contract for construction of bridge in Bangladesh



OTTAWA—The RCMP has charged former SNC-Lavalin senior executive Kevin Wallace with bribery of a foreign public official as part of its investigation into a contract for the construction of a bridge in Bangladesh.

He’s the latest worker to be charged over alleged bribes in relation the to the $12-million Padma Bridge proposal.

Two other former SNC employees, Ramesh Shah and Mohammad Ismail, were charged in February.

The RCMP said it was also charging Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan, a Canadian citizen, and Abul Hasan Chowdhury of Bangladesh, with one count of bribery each, but declined to provide further details about their role in the project or association with the company.

Wallace was released with conditions and a promise to appear in court.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Wallace had filed a wrongful dismissal case against SNC in June, saying he was fired as part of a public relations strategy, and that he did not participate in or become aware of any wrongdoing by others at SNC.

SNC-Lavalin denied in its statement of defence that its decision to fire Wallace was arrived at in bad faith, claiming that documents, which Wallace denied seeing, showed that employees under his direction were engaged in improper business activities.

The company said it knew of the charges against Wallace but declined to comment because the matter was before the courts.

“However, we can remind you that Mr. Wallace left SNC-Lavalin in December 2012 and that those charges are related to the Bangladesh case that is under investigation for the past two years,” SNC spokesperson Lilly Nguyen said in an email.

Ismail also filed a wrongful dismissal suit after he was fired from the company in 2011, a year before he and his former supervisor Shah were charged with attempting to bribe Bangladeshi government officials in relation to the bridge project.

The reputation of the Canadian engineering company has been tarnished since it disclosed in March 2012 that an internal investigation found $56-million in improper payments were made to undisclosed foreign agents.

SNC’s former chief executive Pierre Duhaime was “relieved of his duties” and was later charged with fraud involving $22.5-million of those payments to the construction of a Montreal hospital.

The World Bank barred an SNC-Lavalin subsidiary and affiliates from bidding on its projects for 10 years as a result of allegations stemming from the Bangladesh bridge project.

Canada-based companies lead the list of entities banned by the World Bank for corruption or fraud this year, with nearly half of the 250.

SNC-Lavalin has the majority of subsidiaries and affiliates named for Canada.

Earlier this month, SNC’s chief compliance officer told a Montreal anti-fraud conference that the company was working to correct the problems that have damaged the engineering company’s reputation over the past 18 months.

SNC has repeatedly said it was co-operating with police that it hoped those who committed illegal acts will be brought to justice.

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