Canada firm that promised bribes to PH officials for police contracts will pay $10.5M to avoid charges
A Montreal, Quebec forensics firm promised millions of dollars in bribes to Philippine officials, including a cabinet minister and his brother, to try to gain lucrative Philippine National Police contracts, says a statement of facts in a deal the firm struck to avoid prosecution in Canada.
The deal between Ultra Electronics Forensic Technology Inc. and federal prosecutors was approved by the Superior Court of Quebec, in a remediation agreement also known as deferred prosecution.
It requires the firm to pay some $10.5 million, co-operate with investigations, report to prosecutors on the agreement’s implementation and abide by an anti-bribery and corruption program overseen by an external auditor hired at the firm’s expense, reported Global News Canada.
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Attached to the court’s ruling is a statement of facts saying two senior officers at the company were involved in a scheme from 2006 to 2018 to bribe Philippine officials to secure $17 million in contracts with the Philippines National Police.
The bribes were “earmarked and promised to” public officials and others with “sufficient gravitas to exert some influence” on those involved in the procurement process.
The statement of facts says the Philippine public officials included Ronaldo Puno, who was secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government from 2006 to 2010.
Although the statement of facts does not include evidence linked to the bribery scheme, it says Puno “was a key figure in securing the budget and ensuring the procurement of” the company’s flagship ballistics identification product.
Allegedly, beginning in September 2006 through January 2018, two senior company officers enlisted the help of “commercial agent” Rizalino Espino in Manila to help lock down the police contracts.
Espino’s company, Concept Dynamics Enterprises, was to receive commissions on a percentage of any contracts, of which “a substantial portion” was intended as bribes.
The statement says Espino enlisted a pair of local businessmen to help with the bribery scheme because of their “close relationship” to Puno and his brother Rodolpho Puno, who was chairman of the Philippines Road Board at the time.
In September 2022, the RCMP announced fraud and bribery charges under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act against the company and four of its executives, Robert Walsh, Philip Timothy Heaney, René Bélanger and Michael McLean.
The cases against the individual executives continue, while the charges against the company are stayed and will be withdrawn if it complies with the remediation agreement.