POLITICS

Bombardier denies role in keeping Russian Railways boss off sanctions list

06/18/2015 04:47 EDT | Updated 06/18/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Canadian transportation giant Bombardier says it played no role in keeping the boss of Russian Railways off Canada's sanctions list.

"We're in constant discussions with the Canadian government on our business relationships...but we don't have any role in who goes on the list or who doesn't go on the list," said John Paul Macdonald, senior vice-president, human resources and public affairs.

Vladimir Yakunin, a former United Nations diplomat turned business tycoon, suggested Wednesday that his close business relationships, notably with Bombardier chairman Pierre Beaudoin, may have helped to shield him from Canada's list.

"I suppose Canadians are not the same masochists, like, you know, Europeans,'' he told The Canadian Press at an event ahead of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

The railways head was blacklisted last year by the U.S. as part of the Obama administration's widening efforts to retaliate for Russia's annexation of Crimea last year. But Macdonald noted Yakunin isn't included on the EU sanctions list.

He is one of at least two Russian businessmen with close ties to President Vladimir Putin who have been excluded from Canada's blacklist. The other is Igor Sechin, head of Russia's state-owned energy company Rosneft, which owns about 30 per cent of an Exxon Mobil Corp. oilfield in Alberta.

Macdonald said Bombardier has a very good business relationship with Russian Railways, its long-standing joint venture partner in producing railway signals. But he declined to comment on Yakunin's description of Beaudoin as "family."

He said business relationships change when companies are added to the list. He pointed to the suspension of efforts to set up a Q400 assembly facility in Russia after Rostec was put on the sanctions list.

"We will continue doing business when it is appropriate for us doing business. If there are rules and sanctions then obviously we will adhere to those."