32 employees step forward under corruption amnesty

1 October 2013

Thirty-two employees of disgraced global engineer SNC-Lavalin have stepped forward to confess or blow the whistle on corruption under a three-month amnesty launched in May.

The Montreal-headquartered firm, which was banned this year from World Bank projects and has three former executives facing fraud and corruption charges, promised staff they would not lose their jobs or face claims for damages if they volunteered information between June and the end of August.

Yesterday the company said 32 employees made amnesty requests under the program, which it believes is unprecedented in Canadian corporate history.

None of the 32 revealed "new information of a material nature", SNC-Lavalin said, but it added that the information did "confirm its previous assessment of corruption risks".

The company announced the results of the amnesty in an update on what it called its "rapid progress" toward a group-wide ethics and compliance framework overseen by its new "chief compliance officer", Andreas Pohlmann, who had played a similar role at Siemens.

Firm claims ‘rapid progress’ toward group-wide ethics framework (Getty)

Concerted efforts to repair its tarnished reputation appear to be working, as shares in the 102-year-old firm rose 3% on the ethics framework announcement, and on another announcement that it would sell an equity stake in AltaLink, Alberta’s largest regulated electricity transmission company.

Despite the steady bombardment of bad news, and ongoing corruption investigations in Canada, Switzerland and Bangladesh, SNC-Lavalin’s stock is up by approximately 12% over the past year.

"The many important initiatives we have launched in 2013 should reassure stakeholders that our commitment to ethics and compliance excellence continues to be unwavering," said Robert Card, SNC-Lavalin’s president and CEO.

SNC-Lavalin has also published an "An Anti-Corruption Manual" for its 34,000 employees around the world. The company says it outlines acceptable and unacceptable conduct.

It also established policy governing engagements with business partners setting out principles and due diligence procedures to be observed before entering into an agreement with third parties acting on behalf of the company.

"Compliance officers" have been appointed in the company’s business units around the world, reporting to Andreas Pohlmann.

All staff now receive "personal compliance training" as well so they can, in the company’s words, "do business according to the utmost ethical standards, no matter what regulatory circumstances they find themselves in, or external parties they are in contact with."

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