Mexican chapter in the Odebrecht saga underscores need to bolster transparency at EDC

(Hill Times, Ottawa, 15 January 2018) When allegations emerged last fall that the Mexican president’s 2012 election campaign was funded in part by a subsidiary of the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, the news barely made headlines in Canada. But this recent development in the far-reaching Odebrecht corruption scandal should give us pause, because it raises crucial questions about the anti-corruption and disclosure policies of our export credit agency, Export Development Canada (EDC). In December 2012, EDC loaned $300 million USD to Braskem, an Odebrecht subsidiary, for construction of a petrochemical complex in Veracruz, Mexico. Earlier that year, Braskem allegedly paid over $3 million USD in bribes towards President Peña Nieto’s election campaign. In its review this year of the Export Development Act, the government must turn a critical eye to this issue. The review, conducted by the trade minister every ten years, provides a crucial opportunity to enhance the transparency of EDC’s due diligence practices.