Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Quebec wants thorough cleansing of corruption-tainted companies

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MONTREAL -- The Quebec government says it won't be satisfied with cosmetic cleanup measures from firms that have been blacklisted by the province's securities regulator for implication in corruption scandals.

"Whoever thought that getting rid of one or two managers would be enough is wrong," Treasury Board president St©phane B©dard said. "There is a clear message being sent -- clean house, do it well. Do it for today but also for the future."

The comments come after it was announced that Dessau Inc., one of the biggest engineering firms in Canada, has been denied access to public contracts for five years by the Autorit© des march©s financiers on advice of the province's police anti-corruption squad.

"Our goal is to correct the past," B©dard told a news conference. "It requires a culture change."

Shortly after it was elected last year, the new Parti Qu©b©cois government brought in Bill 1, which requires companies to get a certificate to be eligible for public contracts. The process is managed by the Autorit©.

Dessau is the sixth-largest engineering-construction firm in Canada and ranks among the top 60 firms worldwide.

B©dard says a company can appeal the decertification if it shows it is rehabilitating itself to the satisfaction of the Autorit©.

"It doesn't have to be for five years," B©dard said.

Under the province's anti-corruption law, the provincial government has 60 days to overrule the decision.

B©dard says the provincial government will support any efforts by a company to set things right but will not be satisfied with cosmetic measures.

Among the required measures are getting rid of managers and directors who are at fault, ending fraudulent practices and installing strict controls.

The Autorit©, working with the anti-corruption squad, will conduct a complete investigation of firms bidding for public contracts.

The first phase of the effort is to look at firms bidding or working on contracts that exceed $40 million. Those that do not measure up will be excluded until they meet the Autorit©'s standards.

The next step, likely in the fall, will be to verify companies involved in projects valued between $10 million and $40 million with the amount gradually decreasing until all companies doing business with the government are shown to be clean.

B©dard noted blacklisted companies that have uncompleted work can apply for permission to finish the job if it submits at its own expense to strict control measures and monitoring by the Autorit©.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 22, 2013 B19

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