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Bangladeshi government accuses SNC exec of bribery-report

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 19 Dec 2012 18:48 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Bangladesh probe alleges bribery, Globe and Mail reports

* Probe recommends prosecuting 3 former SNC executives

* President of SNC's Candu unit leaves company

* Allegations latest in mounting company scandal

* SNC shares fall 1.1 pct on TSX

TORONTO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - A unit of SNC Lavalin Group Inc said on Wednesday that a senior executive left the company earlier this month, which was just ahead of corruption accusations by Bangladeshi authorities, according to a report in the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission has accused Kevin Wallace, former president of SNC's Candu Energy Inc nuclear power unit, with conspiring to bribe government officials, the newspaper said, citing a commission report.

Wallace, previously a project manager at SNC overseeing mining and industry projects, resigned from the Montreal-based company in early December.

In a brief press release, Candu said on Dec. 10 that Wallace had left the company and an acting president would fill his position until the board of directors appointed a new president.

SNC said on Wednesday that it has not received a copy of the Bangladesh report and learned of the investigation through the media. The company also said it would not comment on personnel files of former employees, or their reasons for leaving the company.

Attempts to reach Wallace were unsuccessful.

The report is the latest development in a mounting corruption scandal at SNC. Earlier this month, the company said it would suspend payments to its former chief executive, following his arrest on fraud charges by Quebec police.

Pierre Duhaime left SNC in March after an internal probe found that he had authorized ${esc.dollar}56 million in company payments to unknown agents on projects that did not exist.

Quebec's anti-corruption squad said in November that SNC's former head of construction, Riadh Ben Aissa, faced the same charges as Duhaime.

Ben Aissa was arrested this spring in Switzerland. According to media reports, Swiss police are investigating ${esc.dollar}139 million in payments to a Swiss bank account tied to contracts in Libya.

The Bangladesh probe is related to a bridge project, for which the World Bank withdrew a ${esc.dollar}1.2 billion line of credit in June, saying it had credible evidence of a high-level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials.

Two former executives at SNC, which had bid to supervise the contractor on the project, appeared in a Toronto court in July, accused of bribing officials in Bangladesh. Ramesh Shah and Mohammed Ismail were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in February following a 2011 raid on SNC's office in Oakville, outside Toronto.

The Bangladesh anti-corruption report recommends the prosecution of several Bangladeshi officials, as well as Wallace, Shah and Ismail, the Globe and Mail reported.

Shares of SNC dropped 1.1 percent, or 45 Canadian cents, to C${esc.dollar}40.61 (${esc.dollar}41.15) on the Toronto Stock Exchange at mid-session on Wednesday.

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