Bombardier Employee Detained in Sweden on Bribery Suspicions

  • Russian’s arrest comes three years after Azerbaijan rail deal
  • Company says it will continue to cooperate with authorities

Swedish police detained a Bombardier Inc. employee on suspicion of bribery and questioned several others in connection with a rail contract in Azerbaijan.

Evgeny Pavlov, a Russian citizen whose LinkedIn profile lists him as a Bombardier sales executive, was remanded in custody Friday, according to court documents. Pavlov is suspected of aggravated bribery, and several people at the company’s Swedish operation have been served a “notice of suspicion,” said Thomas Forsberg, prosecutor at the anti-corruption unit of the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

The detention occurred more than three years after a Bombardier-led consortium won an order from Azerbaijan Railways CJSC on the Kars-Baku corridor connecting Asia and Europe. That deal, which covered the design, manufacture, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of a double track line, was valued at $288 million. Bombardier, a Montreal-based maker of trains and planes, had a $203 million share.

“We can confirm that some Bombardier Transportation Sweden employees have been questioned by the Swedish police,” Claas Belling, a spokesman for Bombardier Transportation, said by email. “We will continue to cooperate fully with the Swedish authorities and will provide additional information when available and appropriate.”

Bombardier is committed to “operating in full compliance with all legal rules and requirements and our own high ethical standards,” he said.

Flight Risk

Pavlov is being held because of his central role in the events being investigated, Forsberg said in an interview. “There is risk that he might leave the country and that Russia wouldn’t extradite a Russian citizen,” Forsberg said.

Pavlov’s LinkedIn profile lists him as head of sales, marketing and country coordinator, Region North, at Bombardier Transportation Sweden.

Investigators suspect Bombardier’s Swedish unit sold equipment to another company, Multiserv Overseas, which then sold it back to a Bombardier-affiliated entity at an $85 million markup, Forsberg said. Prosecutors believe that sum, or parts of it, went to pay Azerbaijan officials for securing the contract, he said. 

Bombardier also gave contracts valued at $56 million or more to an Azerbaijan company associated with a railway authority official, Forsberg said, without identifying the company.

Belling, the Bombardier spokesman, declined to comment about the company’s relationship with Multiserv or any of the pricing arrangements, citing the ongoing investigation.

Asked about Bombardier, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters he expects all Canadian companies to act ethically abroad. His government agreed last month to provide C$372.5 million ($277 million) in support for Bombardier to help fund two jet programs, including the C Series, a single-aisle plane that competes with aircraft made by Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE.

— With assistance by Greg Quinn

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