A Swedish prosecutor says he has reason to believe “bribery is still happening” years after several Bombardier Transportation employees in Sweden allegedly bribed Azerbaijani officials in a rail equipment procurement deal.
Thomas Forsberg, lead prosecutor in the investigation, confirmed to BNN that officials detained and questioned three Bombardier employees this week on suspicion of “aggravated bribery.”
He says two of the employees are Swedish nationals and were released from custody after questioning. The third employee is a Russian national and remains in custody. According to Reuters, the Russian national is a 37-year-old man.
"He denies the accusation," Cristina Bergner, the man's lawyer, told Reuters. She declined to give any further comment.
Speaking at a media availability as part of his trip to Houston, Prime Minister Trudeau was asked whether the scandal might affect the government’s planned $372.5 million in loans to Bombardier.
“We will always be thoughtful on how we approach loans or investments in any companies in Canada and around the world. We will continue to monitor and engage; at this point I can’t predict it will have any impact. It’s very clear this was an entirely separate issue from where we’ll be investing here in Canada.”
Prosecutors say they obtained evidence in the form of emails after a raid at Bombardier offices in Sweden last fall.
"Despite the fact that Bombardier was in fifth place in terms of price, they won the 2013 tender when competitors that had offered a better price were disqualified by the rail authority in Azerbaijan," prosecutors wrote in a statement.
A Bombardier spokesperson confirmed some Bombardier Transportation Sweden employees were questioned by the Swedish police.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with the Swedish authorities and will provide additional information when available and appropriate,” wrote Claas Belling, head of external communications at Bombardier Transportation, in a written statement. “As always, we are committed to operating in full compliance with all legal rules and requirements and our own high ethical standards.”
Forsberg told Reuters the contract in question was worth US$340 million.
He said one of the rail authority employee's private business became a contracting partner that was offering the tender in a consortium with Bombardier. This Azerbijani company won contracts worth at least US$56 million.
A shell company had also bought products for US$20 million and then sold them back to the consortium for US$104 million, Forsberg said.
“We are trying to follow the money and who received it all,” Forsberg told BNN. “It’s probably in private pockets.”
- with files from Reuters