Canada court trashes Padma Bridge corruption allegation
Canada court trashes Padma Bridge corruption allegation A Canada court has dismissed the graft allegation in Padma Bridge project and acquitted three business executives of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. throwing out wiretap evidence, saying the wiretap applications were based on gossip and rumour, reports the Globe and Mail.
Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court ruled that he had serious concerns about three applications the RCMP filed in 2011 to get court approval to use wiretaps. The RCMP had sought the approval as it probed allegations that SNC staff planned to bribe officials in Bangladesh to try to win a $50-million (US) contract to supervise construction on the country's PadmaBridge project.
"Reduced to its essentials, the information provided in the [wiretap applications] was nothing more than speculation, gossip and rumour," Judge Nordheimer concluded.
"Nothing that could fairly be referred to as direct factual evidence, to support the rumour and speculation, was provided or investigated. The information provided by the tipsters was hearsay (or worse) added to other hearsay."
The RCMP originally charged five people with corruption in the case, but charges against two of the accused – Mohammad Ismail and Abul Hasan Chowdhury – were previously dropped.
The case against the remaining three accused – former SNC vice-president of energy and infrastructure Kevin Wallace, former SNC vice-president of international development Ramesh Shah, and Bangladeshi-Canadian businessman Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan – ended on Friday when Judge Nordheimer acquitted all three.
The decision came after Crown attorney Tanit Gilliam elected to call no witnesses at the trial following the judge's decision to exclude wiretap evidence.
"The Crown had the opportunity to reassess the case and concluded we had no reasonable prospect of conviction based on the evidence," Gilliam told the court.