Canada probes SNC-Lavalin on The Padma Bridge Project

Canadian authorities have raided the offices of engineering group SNC-Lavalin in connection with a corruption probe into a World Bank-funded project in Bangladesh, police and the Bank said Saturday.

Federal police searched SNC-Lavalin offices outside Toronto on Thursday “to collect evidence in relation to an investigation under way on firm employees,” police spokeswoman Julie Morel told Media.

A special World Bank unit alerted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the possible wrongdoing at SNC-Lavalin during the bidding process for the Padma bridge project in the south Asian country, a Bank spokesman said.

Employees are being investigated for “violations of Canadian law,” and police searched “several locations,” the spokesman said.

“The Bank continues its own investigation related to this matter. The Padma Bridge Project was approved for financing by the World Bank, but disbursement of funds has not been authorized pending this investigation,” he added.

SNC-Lavalin’s vice president of communications, Leslie Quinton, told AFP in an email that the company was cooperating with police in the matter.

But she noted: “We are not aware of any information that would justify such an inquiry.”

Quinton indicated that the company’s bid on a “very small part” of the Padma project was not accepted.

In February, the World Bank said it would lend Bangladesh $1.2 billion to build the bridge over the Padma river — the local name for the Ganges — which will connect the capital Dhaka to the country’s coastal districts.

The bridge, expected to go into service in 2014, will be the longest in the country at 6.15 kilometers (3.8 miles).

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