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Acres fined $3.4 million on corruption charge

Acres International consulting engineers of Oakville, Ontario has been fined $3.4 million by the Lesotho High Court...


Acres International consulting engineers of Oakville, Ontario has been fined $3.4 million by the Lesotho High Court in connection with its conviction earlier this year on charges of aiding and abetting corruption. The company, which employs 1,000, was found guilty of bribing an official on a water diversion project in the 1990s. The judge indicated that Acres was being used as a symbol and a tool to fight corruption in government contracts. The sentence was to be a deterrent, “such that other consultants and contractors who want to become involved in Lesotho will think twice about paying bribes to senior officials.”
Acres is appealing the sentence and, until that case is heard, the Canadian International Development Agency will not make any decisions about blacklisting the firm. CIDA funds many projects like this in developing countries and frequently pays Canadian consulting engineering firms to do studies and engineering designs. The World Bank, another sponsor of infrastructure in the Third World, told the Globe and Mail that it would review the Lesotho trial transcript (27,000 pages) to see if they agreed that there was corruption. The World Bank invested Acres conduct in Lesotho in February but found no case.

Acres did $21 million of work on the project to divert water from landlocked Lesotho to South Africa in the 1990s (see CCE October-November, pp. 69-72.)