World Bank lifts sanctions on SNC-Lavalin two years early for good behaviour

The World Bank has released Canada’s SNC-Lavalin from sanctions two years early after deciding the company has met all corporate integrity conditions.

The bank debarred SNC-Lavalin Inc. and over 100 affiliates for 10 years in 2013 for its misconduct in relation to the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project in Bangladesh and misconduct under another Bank-financed project.  

It meant the company could not bid for ban-funded projects.

At the time, the engineer and contractor was engulfed in a multifaceted corruption crisis with allegations of bribery stemming from its work in Libya, Angola, Algeria, Bangladesh and its home town of Montreal.

A number of executives were charged, including its former chief executive, Pierre Duhaime, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to helping a public servant commit breach of trust in the contract to build the McGill University Hospital Centre in Montreal.

The company itself was charged with corruption in 2015, with police accusing it of offering around $47m in bribes to Libyan officials in the decade to 2011. These charges were dropped in a 2019 settlement with police, which saw an SNC-Lavalin company paying a C$280m fine.

The company and its subsidiaries will now be able to bid for work on projects financed by the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

"Since 2012, SNC-Lavalin has done its homework," said Ian L. Edwards, SNC-Lavalin’s president and chief executive.

"Over nearly 10 years, we evolved through honest reflection, hard work and a sustained commitment by and toward all our employees, leading to the integration of integrity best practices."

Developed since the crisis, SNC-Lavalin’s Integrity Programme included the appointment of a chief integrity officer, overhauling its management team and board, mandatory integrity training of staff, and setting up a compliance investigation team separate from the internal audit function.

The company’s chief integrity officer, Dr. Hentie Dirker, said: "A strong culture of integrity has been established through the commitment of all to common values, implementation of rigorous internal controls to ensure compliance, as well as the application of corrective measures."

Image: SNC-Lavalin’s headquarters in Montreal (Jeangagnon/CC BY-SA 3.0)

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