NEWS

SNC-Lavalin allegedly paid to get McGill hospital contract

10/01/2012 05:10 EDT | Updated 12/01/2012 05:12 EST
SNC-Lavalin's president Robert Card refused to comment on allegations that the company obtained the construction contract for the McGill University Health Centre by making payments of $22 million.

According to Montreal's La Presse newspaper, the payments were part of a scheme made public in February by SNC-Lavalin.

The company is currently at the centre of two RCMP investigations. The first relates to alleged corruption surrounding the project for a bridge in Bangladesh, while the other is related to $56-million payments reported in a file made public last March.

SNC-Lavalin reported having lost track of the sum, which would have allegedly been given to agents and commercial representatives for two unspecified projects taking place in Africa.

La Presse does, however, mention that $22 million of the $56 million was used to obtain the contract to build the McGill superhospital. According to the newspaper, the sum was not transferred from within Canada but was allegedly sent to intermediaries in other countries and sent back here in 2010 and 2011. The payments were made for a contract with a fake firm, La Presse reports.

The MUHC's building site is deemed one of the most important government undertakings in North America. The $1.3-billion project was handed over to SNC-Lavalin and Innisfree in 2010.

The contract lays out that the two companies will be responsible for the superhospital's management for 30 years following construction.

Two weeks ago, investigators of the anti-corruption unit raided the MUHC's offices and requested documents pertaining to the acquisition of the contract for the construction site.

On Monday, Card said he would have to "deliver the goods" to regain the trust of investors.

SNC-Lavalin board chairman Gwyn Morgan said the board has adopted new controls that will ensure the "worst chapter in the company's history" will not be repeated. He declined to answer questions about ongoing investigations.

Isabelle Adjahi, spokeswoman for the engineering firm Genivar – which was part of a consortium that lost the bid to build the superhospital – said the company is disappointed by the news.

"We thought everything was done in a fair, efficient and transparent way, and apparently, it seems not to be the case," said Adjahi.

Adjahi said Genivar will wait for the results of the police investigation before considering legal action.

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