Canadian Consulting Engineer

News

SNC-Lavalin invites employees to report corruption

On May 27 SNC-Lavalin announced a program to allow its current employees to report any potential corruption matters they know are occurring in the firm without fear of reprisals.


SNC-Lavalin's head office in Montreal.
SNC-Lavalin's head office in Montreal.

On May 27 SNC-Lavalin announced a program to allow its current employees to report any potential corruption matters they know are occurring in the firm without fear of reprisals.

The company-wide “amnesty program” is intended “to encourage current employees to report potential corruption and anti-competition matters in which they may have direct or indirect knowledge.”

The amnesty lasts for 90 days between June 3 and August 31, 2013. It applies to any current employees, but not to executives in the management committee groups or in the office of the president’s. It also does not apply to anyone who has directly profited from an ethical violation.

Employees who want amnesty have to file a request to the company’s chief compliance office, Andreas Pohlmann. The company guarantees that it will not unilaterally fire or claim damages from those who report “voluntarily, truthfully and fully” any violations of its Code of Ethics and Business Conduct.

The Montreal-based company that has offices across Canada and in over 40 other countries, believes this is the first time a Canadian company has initiated an amnesty program of this type.

The program is a response to the problems the company has faced in recent times, including charges that it made hefty illegal payments to bureaucrats in developing countries in order to obtain design and construction contracts. A report in the Globe and Mail on May 15 said that the payments were reported in the books as “consultancy costs (CC)”or “project consultancy costs (PCC).” The World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency have suspended the company’s right to bid on contracts as a result of ethical breaches.

Pohlmann says: While the vast majority of SNC-Lavalin’s employees will have nothing to report, this offer of amnesty will allow us to uncover and quickly deal with any remaining issues. Our goal is to turn the page on a challenging chapter in the Company’s history, so we can focus all of our attention on creating value for our stakeholders.”

SNC-Lavalin is far from the only engineering company in Quebec facing problems with ethics. For example. Genivar, another publicly traded company, was one of several mentioned in evidence at the Charbonneau Commission of inquiry for funnelling illegal cash payments to Montreal political parties and one of its former executives, Francois Perreault, has been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. (Genivar is changing its name to WSP Global.) Dessau, another large engineering company in Montreal, has been banned from bidding on city of Montreal projects for five years, and one of its former executives, Rosaire Sauriol, faces fraud charges.