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Bangladesh bridge graft: 2 to appear in Canada court

Publication Date : 24-06-2012


Two former executives of Canadian company SNC-Lavalin are scheduled to appear in a Toronto court tomorrow to face corruption charges in relation to Padma Multipurpose Bridge project in Bangladesh.

Ramesh Shah, 61, of Oakville, and Bangladesh born Mohammad Ismail, 48, of Mississauga, were arrested in February and formally charged in April, according to a report of the Canadian Press that quoted Lucy Shorey as a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Ramesh was a vice-president and Ismail director of international projects at SNC-Lavalin in Toronto.

The RCMP did not previously disclose the charges against the former employees of the largest engineering company in Canada.

Confirmation of the charges came a day after The Daily Star reported that the Anti-Corruption Commission was investigating allegations that SNC-Lavalin had offered huge bribes to at least six influential Bangladeshi officials, including two former government ministers, to obtain the lucrative bridge contract.

Shorey confirmed on Friday that the RCMP's international anti-corruption squad had given the public information only to the commission, the report of the Canadian Press says, adding she also pointed to inaccuracies in the newspaper's report, without elaboration.

The accusations of bribery had prompted the World Bank to suspend a US$1.2 billion loan for the bridge and temporarily barred the SNC-Lavalin subsidiary from bidding on other contracts in the country.

The RCMP raided a SNC-Lavalin office in Oakville, Ontario, last September at the request of the World Bank which had been investigating the Padma bridge contract.

SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman Leslie Quinton said the company had not been charged and she was not aware if other former employees had faced the same charges or left the company in relation to the proposed 6.5-kilometre bridge in Bangladesh.

Ramesh and Ismail are being prosecuted under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

The law targets people who in order to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of business, directly or indirectly give, offer or agree to give or offer a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind to a foreign public official or to any person for the benefit of a foreign public official.

It prohibits people from trying to induce the official to use his or her position to influence any act or decision of the foreign state or public international organisation for which the official performs duties or functions.


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