THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress on Sunday asked Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to break his silence over involvement of a company that has stakes in 'tainted' Canadian firm SNC Lavalin in an infrastructure bond floated by the state government.
A row flared up last week after the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) concluded its debut international issue, closing its Rs 2,150 crore Masala Bond, both the BJP and the Congress alleged that one of the main investors was Canada's CDPQ, that has invested in SNC-Lavalin, black-listed in Kerala.
"The deep silence of Vijayan on what role the company (CDPQ) has in SNC Lavalin is baffling. Vijayan should come clean on if there is an intermediary in the Masala Bond. First, state Finance Minister Thomas Issac said that there is no role of SNC Lavalin in this, but later, KIIFB's CEO said that CDPQ has invested in SNC Lavalin. It's also surprising that the name of Lavalin comes up when Vijayan is in office," Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told media here.
KIIFB CEO K.M. Abraham, however, said CDPQ is a government body in Canada and had been created in 1965 by an act of the Quebec National Assembly.
"It is a public sector body whose entire beneficial interest is held by the Government of Canada. The CDPQ is an institutional investor which manages pension funds and insurance programmes, and has its headquarters in Quebec. It is the second largest pension fund in Canada. CDPQ has investments in 75 countries," said Abraham, a former Chief Secretary of the state.
Issac, meanwhile, said that the Congress has reached a stage where they need the name of Lavalin during every election.
"Until this money was raised, Chennithala, time and again, called the KIIFB a bluff and when this money came in last week through bonds, they have turned to use the name of Lavalin. What they fail to realize is these bonds have been cleared by the Reserve Bank of India and other regulatory bodies. The Congress is short on issues and hence they fall back on these," Issac said in a Facebook post.
This Bond is going to be launched on May 17 at the London Stock Exchange, the first time it is happening for an Indian state's bond, and Vijayan has been invited on the occasion.
SNC Lavalin was blacklisted by the V.S. Achuthanandan-led Left Democratic Front government (2006-11) over allegations that an agreement with them in 1997 for the renovation and modernisation of Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar hydroelectric projects in the state's Idukki district caused a loss of Rs 266 crore to the state exchequer.
This deal was inked when Vijayan was the State Power Minister and the Oommen Chandy-led Congress government had, in 2006, called for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the entire agreement.
Even though the CBI charge sheeted Vijayan, he got relief from the Kerala High Court, which discharged him in the case in 2017.
But later, the CBI approached the Supreme Court and demanded that Vijayan face trial. The apex court is expected to give its final orders on this after summer vacations and the Lok Sabha polls in April-May.