Canada leads the world in companies and individuals that have been banned by the World Bank from contributing to international aid and infrastructure projects.
Of the 608 companies and individuals listed on the World Bank’s just-released blacklist for fraudulent or corrupt conduct, 119 are Canadian companies. But engineering firm SNC-Lavalin and its subsidiaries, many of which are registered outside Canada, comprise 16 per cent of the total.
The World Bank bans companies from participating in aid and development contracts if they “have been sanctioned under the Bank’s fraud and corruption policy.”
The number of companies included on that list soared in 2013, rising from only 65 banned entities on last year’s list, according to the South China Morning Post. The World Bank says about $40 billion of the roughly $200 billion it has given out since 2008 has been stolen.
Companies with head offices listed in Canada, which does not include overseas subsidiaries, comprise 119 names on the World Bank list, the most of any country. The U.S. is second with 44 debarred firms, Indonesia third with 43 and Britain close behind with 40.
The grounds for getting blacklisted vary, but usually include some manner of bribery, fraud, collusion, coercion or obstruction either in bidding for contracts or in carrying them out.
The most prominent name on the World Bank list, by far, is SNC-Lavalin, which has been mired in scandal for the last two years. Of the companies banned for corruption and fraud, SNC-Lavalin has 102 entries on the blacklist, stemming from a blanket ban against the company from earlier in 2013.
The World Bank has debarred SNC-Lavalin from working on its projects for 10 years after company officials were linked to bribery in a bridge project in Bangladesh. There are also corruption allegations in relation to a World Bank-financed rural electricity project in Cambodia.
The RCMP raided the Montreal headquarters of the engineering and construction giant in April as part of an investigation into $56 million in mysterious payments. One multimillion-dollar payment allegedly went to the family of former Tunisian dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to win construction contracts in the North African country. The company also had ties to Libya’s former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The former CEO of SNC-Lavalin, Pierre Duhaime, was charged with fraud in late 2011 in connection with the Quebec anti-corruption commission, which has been probing corruption in the province’s construction sector.
A request from Canada.com for comment from SNC-Lavalin went unanswered Tuesday, as did a similar request to the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada.
Foreign Minister John Baird spoke out against corruption on a trip to Algeria over the weekend, another country where SNC-Lavalin is embroiled in bribery allegations.
“This company does not represent all Canadian businesses, which give huge importance to ethics,” Baird said in a joint news conference with his Algerian counterpart on Sunday. “It is obvious that they must pay for their actions through the courts.”
Despite SNC-Lavalin’s ongoing legal problems, however, the Canadian government recommended the company for a hospital-building project in Trinidad and Tobago through the little-known Crown corporation the Canadian Commercial Corporation. The 2012 recommendation came amid allegations of wrongdoing in the company’s international dealings, but before bans by the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency.
CIDA has since been absorbed into Foreign Affairs.
Use the interactive database below to see which companies are on the blacklist. Typing “SNC” in all-caps should be a good starting point.