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For corruption news, Canada rocks

Former Montreal mayor, Michael Applebaum (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)That’s a ridiculous headline considering Canada’s perennial top-ten ranking on the corruption perceptions index.

But it’s true.

From our northern neighbor come increasingly regular reports of home-grown sleaze.

This week the mayor of Montreal, Michael Applebaum, left, was arrested and charged with fourteen counts of fraud in awarding public contracts. He resigned Tuesday.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff quit last month over allegations about Senate expenses.

In a scandal of a different kind, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was apparently caught on camera smoking crack cocaine. He said he doesn’t smoke crack cocaine.

Bribery allegations are swirling around SNC-Lavalin, Canada’s biggest engineering and construction company, and many of its executives.

Last month, the former head of Montreal’s McGill University hospital, Arthur Porter, was arrested in Panama on an Interpol warrant. He’s tied to allegations that SNC-Lavalin paid $22 million in bribes for a contract to build the new $2.4 billion Montreal health center.

Last year, Canadian police arrested SNC-Lavalin’s former CEO Pierre Duhaime for fraud and forgery.

A few months ago, the World Bank barred the company from its projects for ten years because of suspected corruption in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Libya, and Algeria.

SNC-Lavalin executives Ramesh Shah and Mohammad Ismail were arrested in Canada and charged with bribing officials in Bangladesh.

Another former exec, Ben Aïssa, was nabbed in Switzerland. He was named in a Canadian police affidavit that described $160 million in alleged bribes to the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in exchange for engineering contracts.

Applebaum, the former Montreal mayor, allegedly took illegal payments in real estate transactions between 2006 and 2011, police said.

A separate investigation by Canada’s Competition Bureau is looking into collusion and price fixing among companies that sell highway light poles.

The prime minister’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, resigned on news that he paid about $90,000 to a senator to reimburse ineligible expenses, after the senator said he’d paid the expenses himself.

The Globe and Mail and South China Morning Post have more.

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