The Globe and Mail reports that “Russian police have raided the Moscow offices of a Bombardier Inc. joint venture as part of an investigation into the Montreal-based transportation giant’s business relationships in the country, according to documents and video footage reviewed by The Globe and Mail … [and] … The searches were conducted as part of a criminal probe into allegations of “corruption during procurement of railway equipment,” according to legal documents. The general-director of the Bombardier-controlled company has received at least five police summons since the probe began in the fall, documents from Russia’s Interior Ministry and the office of the Moscow region’s Transport Prosecutor show.“
Two factors might be considered:
- First, Bombardier has a chequered history of shady business dealings. In an earlier report, the Globe and Mail said that “Bombardier Inc., one of Canada’s global champions of industry – and a major recipient of taxpayer assistance – won hundreds of millions of dollars worth of international contracts after making controversial side payments known as “success fees” to agents in foreign countries, a year-long, round-the-world investigation by The Globe and Mail has found … [and] … The investigation was sparked by the allegations of a former employee of Bombardier’s rail unit, who told The Globe that he personally took part in the preparation of bids for foreign contracts that involved success-fee payments in South Africa, South Korea and Malaysia while working as part of the company’s bid-preparation team in the early 2000s;” but
- Second, Russia is well known for using underhanded, politically motivated “police” proceedings to pay back those, like Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, have somehow offended Vladimir Putin. Minister Freeland has been a frequent and effective critic of Moscow, and the “favour” has been returned. Putin’s Russia doesn’t like criticism from countries that it considers should offer respectful deference.
Is it one or the other or, more likely, a bit of both?
Russian bullying is, I suspect, part of the issue … likely a fairly big part, but Bombardier has acquired something of a “too big to fail” status in Canada. It is, in every, respect, a major, valuable corporation and something of a ‘jewel in the crown‘ of Canadian, not just Québec industry. But Bombardier, like some other Québec companies, has been too closely aligned with corrupt business practices and even if the Russians are just on a legal fishing trip there may be something there, and that something can damage Canada’s reputation in the world and it can damage Prime Minister Trudeau, too, who doesn’t need any more bad news right now. Both the Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau are closely identified with Bombardier ~ real legal and ethical problems will tarnish both brands.
Too many Canadians remain unhappy with what many perceived to be the undue political influence that people like the late Paul Demarais and his giant Power Corporation and Bernard Lamarre of SNC Lavelin, seemed to have with successive Conservative and Liberal governments … now Bombardier seems to have taken their place and many perceive them as having too much “pull” at the cabinet table. Perception doesn’t need to be grounded in the truth … it just needs to be believable.