Former SNC-Lavalin executive charged over Padma bribery

By Chris Sleight23 September 2013

An artist's impression of the Padma Bridge by its designer Aecom.

An artist's impression of the Padma Bridge by its designer Aecom.

Former SNC-Lavalin executive Kevin Wallace has been charged with bribing a foreign official by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The charges and allegations relate to the Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh, where SNC-Lavalin was to have acted as the client’s engineer. However, funding for the US$ 2.9 billion scheme was withdrawn by the World Bank and others following allegations of corruption by SNC-Lavalin.

Mr Wallace, along with Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan, a Canadian citizen, and Abul Hasan Chowdhury of Bangladesh, have been charged under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. The RCMP previously charged two former SNC Lavalin employees, Ramesh Shah and Mohammad Ismail, both based in Canada as part of the same on-going investigation.

Kevin Wallace was released with conditions and a promise to appear in court at a later date. He left the SNC-Lavalin in December, and in June launched a case for wrongful dismissal, claiming he knew nothing of the corruption charges and had been made a scapegoat by the company. SNC-Lavalin has not made any comment on this or the charges against Mr Wallace.

Allegations that SNC-Lavalin bribed Bangladeshi government officials to win work on the bridge first surfaced in mid-2011. The World Bank referred its concerns over bribery on the project to the RCMP in September of that year. April this year subsequently saw SNC-Lavalin receive the biggest sanction for bribery in the World Bank’s history with a 10-year ban from working on projects it funds.

The bribery allegations and the Bangladeshi authorities’ failure to investigate them saw the World Bank withdraw financing form the project in July 2012.

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