EDC

Canada may blacklist SNC Lavalin – The view from India

Media sources in India are following the Canadian government’s investigation of SNC-Lavalin with great interest.

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Pinarayi Vijayan was Kerala’s Electricity Minister from 1996 to 1998. File photo.

by Rishi K Manoj for Manorama Online

Published February 25, 2015

The current investigation follows the tightening of Canada’s anti-corruption law two years ago. If the Canadian law had been amended in 1996, the case in Kerala would have had a different course.

After being at the centre of a political storm in Kerala for long [sic], SNC Lavalin is making global headlines for the wrong reasons. The Canadian government has launched an investigation into the corrupt practices of the largest construction company in the country. This case may lead to the company being blacklisted.

SNC Lavalin has struck contracts similar to which it signed with the Kerala State Electricity Board, in many countries. The company is accused of paying hefty bribes to bag contracts in Canada and foreign countries. The present investigation spans a decade from 2001 to 2011.

The company’s controversial contracts in Kerala will not come under the purview of the present probe. SNC Lavalin functions in over 40 countries, signing contracts with the governments. The company is accused of corruption to the tune of $50 million to win projects from Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya. Riad Ben Aissa, the executive who had overseen the transactions, is now in jail. Investigators have not been able to explain the $50 million the company is said to have routed to undisclosed accounts, as it did in Kerala.

The company’s Kerala connection started in 1996-98 when the then Electricity Minister Pinarayi Vijayan gave a contract to SNC Lavalin to refurbish Pallivasal, Chenkulam and Panniyar hydel projects for Rs 374 crore. The company was supposed to give a grant of Rs 98 crore to build a cancer hospital in Thalasseri. But Rs 86 crore of the promised amount did not reach the hospital.Even the CBI could not track the money or determine who received the money.

The investigating agency also failed to bring the company representatives to India to collect evidence or to put them on trial. A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General put Vijayan in the dock. Despite spending Rs 374 crore, the hydel projects did not increase power generation, the Comptroller and Auditor General said.

The report termed it a waste of money. SNC Lavalin is also involved in dubious deals in Bangladesh, Mexico and some African countries. The current investigation follows the tightening of Canada’s anti-corruption law two years ago. If the Canadian law had been amended in 1996, the case in Kerala would have had a different course.

The original version of this article is available here at the publisher’s website

Further Reading on the SNC-Lavalin Case in India

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