See no evil: How EDC is bankrolling companies accused of bid-rigging, graft and human-rights violation

(Globe and Mail, Toronto, 4 June 2019) Export Development Canada once described itself as the country’s ‘secret trade weapon.’ But The Globe’s review of thousands of transactions reveals a pattern of secrecy and lax supervision. In Latin America, billions of dollars in Canadian government-backed loans have been funnelled to two of the region’s most notorious oil companies: the state-owned petroleum corporations of Mexico and Brazil, each riddled with frequent reports of bribery, bid-rigging and inflated contracts. In Africa, hundreds of millions of dollars in financing has been channelled to companies at the heart of South Africa’s worst postapartheid corruption scandal: the state-owned freight rail monopoly and the business empire of the infamous Gupta brothers, whose relationship with ex-president Jacob Zuma triggered a public inquiry into state corruption. And in Canada, billions of dollars in federal export loans have gone to support transactions that benefit Bombardier Inc. and SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., two companies that have been cited in corruption investigations in Asia, Africa and Europe. SNC-Lavalin’s head of compliance says the firm is still hoping to reach an out-of-court settlement on bribery, fraud charges.  EDC has declared itself a leading defender of human rights, but workers groups and advocates say the Crown agency’s long-awaited new policy falls well short of what’s needed.