World Bank blacklists SNC-Lavalin unit

A subsidiary of the Montreal-headquartered developer has been temporarily barred from doing business with the World Bank amid a probe into its failed bid for a bridge project in Bangladesh.

Scandal-marred SNC-Lavalin Group, still reeling from the ouster a week ago of its chief executive, had its image again tarnished this week, this time with a punitive injunction by the World Bank Group.

SNC-Lavalin acknowledged Monday that one of its units has been temporarily banned from doing business with the World Bank because of a failed bid on a $3 billion bridge project in Bangladesh.

Last September, law enforcement officials raided an SNC-Lavalin office in Toronto in connection to a corruption probe surrounding the proposed Padma Bridge project, a multipurpose railroad bridge that would cross the Padma River in Bangladesh. The Washington, D.C.-headquartered World Bank is providing some $1.5 billion in funding for the project. 

“We respect the World Bank’s decision to declare a temporary suspension on the subsidiary affected until this matter is concluded. We should be clear, however, that all ongoing projects and new bids by other subsidiaries and divisions will continue as usual,” interim chief executive Ian Bourne said in a statement.

He added: “We launched our own internal investigation when this matter was first brought to our attention and we will continue to cooperate fully with the World Bank on this matter.” SNC-Lavalin is planning to offer a comprehensive response to the World Bank regarding its bidding.

The Canadian developer lost chief executive Pierre Duhaime last week when he resigned in connection to an unauthorised $56 million payment that was not correctly accounted for or documented.

His departure comes after media reports tying SNC-Lavalin to the deposed Qaddafi regime in Libya. According to these reports, employees of the company had been allegedly involved in a plan to smuggle Saadi el-Qaddafi, son of deceased Muammar el-Qaddafi, the longtime Libyan dictator, into Mexico.