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December 9, 2013

Corruption charge in probe of SNC-Lavalin

The RCMP have announced another arrest in connection with their probe into Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and a bridge contract in Bangladesh.

The RCMP said Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan, who holds both Bangladeshi and Canadian citizenship, has been charged with one count under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

Police say Bhuiyan, who is not an SNC employee, voluntarily returned from Bangladesh to face the charge in Canada and has been released on bail.

The arrest follows a charge stemming from an international investigation into a contract for supervision and consultancy services related to construction of the Padma multipurpose bridge in Bangladesh.

To date, five individuals have been charged in relation to this investigation, including Bhuiyan, the RCMP said.

In September, the RCMP charged former SNC-Lavalin senior executive Kevin Wallace with bribery of a foreign public official as part of its investigation into the $12-million bridge contract.

At the time, the RCMP said it was also charging Bhuiyan and Abul Hasan Chowdhury of Bangladesh with one count of bribery each, but did not give details on their role in the project or association with the company.

Two other former SNC employees, Ramesh Shah and Mohammad Ismail, were arrested in February 2012 and charged April of the same year.

Wallace was released with conditions and a promise to appear in court. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The reputation of the Canadian engineering company has been tarnished since it disclosed in March 2012 that an internal investigation found that $56 million in questionable payments had been made.

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

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

In August, the company announced 32 employees admitted ethical violations under the company’s three-month amnesty program.

It was launched after both internal and police investigations into allegations of fraud and corrupt practices in Canada and abroad.

Chief executive Robert Card said the company has also introduced a new company-wide ethics and compliance program.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2013

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