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Ten-year World Bank debarment for SNC-Lavalin

Canada’s scandal-plagued SNC-Lavalin has been barred from World Bank-funded projects for ten years because of alleged corruption in Bangladesh and Cambodia.

The World Bank announced the ban Wednesday.

It debarred parent-company SNC-Lavalin Inc. and its 100 subsidiaries from bidding on any of the bank’s development projects for the next decade.

The 10-year sanction was the longest ever imposed by the World Bank in a negotiated settlement, the bank said.

In June last year, two executives from SNC-Lavalin were charged in Toronto with bribing officials in Bangladesh.

The company later admitted that it conspired to bribe Bangladeshi public officials to win a contract for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project.

In November 2012, Canadian police arrested the former CEO of Montréal-based SNC-Lavalin, Pierre Duhaime, for fraud and forgery in connection with at least two projects in Canada.

Duhaime left the company months before his arrest after an internal audit found more than $50 million in payments to middlemen that couldn’t be traced to the performance of any services.

Another former top executive, Ben Aïssa, was charged by Canadian authorities with fraud and corruption. Police linked him to the tainted World Bank-funded bridge project in Bangladesh.

Aïssa was already in custody in Switzerland for alleged overseas corruption.

An affidavit released earlier this year by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police alleged that a former SNC-Lavalin executive arranged more than $160 million in bribes to the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion loan to Bangladesh for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, effectively stopping the $3 billion project.

Through cross-debarment agreements, World Bank sanctions are also imposed by the Asia Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The World Bank’s full debarment list is here.

SNC-Lavalin can reduce the term of its debarment to eight years by showing it has introduced an enhanced anti-corruption compliance program.

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