Big Story 10

Ex-Bombardier employee too junior to collude for winning contract: lawyer

STOCKHOLM/MONTREAL (Reuters) - A former Bombardier Inc transportation employee facing bribery charges in Sweden was too junior at the company to collude with Azerbaijani officials to win a 2013 rail deal, his lawyer argued on Tuesday.

While the former Bombardier Sweden employee had the legal right to sign the company’s winning bid for a $340 million contract from Azerbaijan, the tender itself was prepared by more senior executives, his lawyer Cristina Bergner told a Stockholm court.

Bombardier Transportation, the Berlin-based rail unit of the Canadian plane-and-train-maker, had a general rule of deciding bids worth more than $100 million at a more senior level, Bergner said.

The man has described himself on Linkedin as a regional head of sales and marketing at BT in Sweden. In 2013, he worked as Bombardier Transportation’s head of business development in Russia, according to the Swedish prosecutor and his profile.

“The decision on this kind of tender is made higher up (at Bombardier), but we have not yet digged deeper into the where and how,” Bergner told Reuters following her opening statement.

A Bombardier spokesman on Tuesday declined to comment because the legal proceedings are ongoing.

In August, Swedish prosecutors charged the employee, a 37-year-old Russian national, on suspicion that he and others at the company had bribed an Azerbaijani official to secure the 2013 rail equipment deal which was financially backed by the World Bank.

Swedish Senior Public Prosecutor Thomas Forsberg has said he has not ruled out laying additional charges against higher-ranking employees at Bombardier Sweden after the trial, which is expected to wrap up by Sept. 20.

The $340 million contract is a fraction of Bombardier Transportation’s nearly $33 billion order backlog as of June 30, 2017.

Swedish prosecutors have said Bombardier won the tender after competitors who offered better prices were disqualified by Azerbaijan’s rail authority.

The contract was awarded before the 2015 arrival of current Bombardier Transportation President Laurent Troger and company Chief Executive Officer Alain Bellemare.

Reporting By Olof Swahnberg in Stockholm and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Tom Brown