SNC-Lavalin’s Ethics Focus Is Encouraging, Canada’s Baird Says

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said he’s pleased to see SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. emphasize ethics under new Chief Executive Officer Robert Card.

Baird was speaking after a meeting with his Algerian counterpart, Ramtane Lamamra. SNC-Lavalin, Canada’s biggest engineering and construction company, had its offices in Algeria searched by police earlier this year in connection with a corruption probe involving government contracts, Radio-Canada and other media reported in June.

“What I said in Algeria re: SNC-Lavalin is that there is new leadership and a new way of doing business, focused on ethics,” Baird said yesterday on his Twitter account. “Any party who is found to have broken the law will be judged under the law. Canadian companies by and large represent Canada well abroad, and we are encouraged by the changes SNC continue to make.”

Card, who took over in October, has appointed senior managers -- including the company’s first ever chief compliance officer -- after vowing to ensure Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin kept its “social license to operate.” Card’s predecessor was arrested last year by the Quebec anti-corruption unit and formally charged with fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and forgery in February.

SNC-Lavalin had one of its subsidiaries and more than 100 affiliates debarred for 10 years by the World Bank after “misconduct” in relation to a bridge project in Bangladesh, according to a World Bank statement dated April 17. The misconduct “involved a conspiracy to pay bribes and misrepresentations” when bidding for World Bank-financed contracts, in violation of the lender’s procurement guidelines, according to the statement.

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