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Bombardier Inc. has escaped late-delivery charges under a South African rail contract, despite receiving US$400-million in advance and delivering only 13 of the required 240 locomotives by its deadline, an official report says.

The report, commissioned by South Africa’s national treasury, is the latest to raise questions about Bombardier’s role in a massive contract that South African media have described as “ground zero” for the country’s biggest postapartheid corruption scandal.

A separate investigation, commissioned by the state-owned freight company, said a US$60-million relocation charge by Bombardier under the same contract seemed to be “excessive and unjustifiable.” It was “extremely suspicious” that Bombardier’s relocation charge was almost identical to the relocation cost of another supplier, the report said.

The US$5-billion contract for more than 1,000 locomotives was awarded in 2014 to four railway manufacturers: Bombardier, General Electric, China South Rail and China North Rail.

Investigations have found that China South Rail paid about US$320-million in “consulting fees” to a company controlled by the Gupta brothers, business partners of the son of former president Jacob Zuma. The Guptas, facing criminal investigations and the threat of arrest, fled the country after Mr. Zuma resigned in February.

None of the four suppliers delivered the contracted number of locomotives on time, but only General Electric was required to pay a penalty for late delivery, according to the report to the national treasury. It said a penalty of about US$6.5-million was imposed on General Electric in April this year, after GE delivered 213 of its required 240 locomotives.

Bombardier got an advance payment of US$400-million, it says, and to date “has delivered 13 locomotives of the approved 240.” Bombardier confirmed to The Globe and Mail in June that it had delivered only 13 locomotives.

The report also called for an investigation of the US$60-million payment to Bombardier for relocating its locomotive assembly work from Pretoria to the city of Durban.

The 408-page report, described as a confidential draft report, was done by Fundudzi Forensic Services, an audit firm that the national treasury hired as part of a detailed investigation of the locomotive deal. It was completed in July and later obtained by several South African media outlets and The Globe.

Bombardier says it has not been accused of any wrongdoing and is not the focus of the South African investigations. In reply to questions from The Globe, the company said it has conducted its own internal review of its South African locomotive contract, which “has not only revealed no wrongdoing whatsoever but rather confirmed that we have always acted legally.”

The Fundudzi investigation is the latest of several reports on the locomotive contract after its cost ballooned by 40 per cent above its original estimate. Earlier reports said the government should consider suspending the entire contract because of impropriety and illegality in how it was awarded.

The contract was issued by Transnet, the South African state-owned freight rail company, at a time when the Guptas exercised heavy influence over Transnet’s top executives and board members. The Gupta influence at Transnet has been documented by several South African investigations, including a lengthy review in 2016 by the Public Protector, an ombudsman who investigates state corruption.

Bombardier’s share of the locomotive contract, worth about US$1.2-billion, was partly financed by a US$450-million loan to Transnet from Canada’s federal export agency, Export Development Canada (EDC).

In June, an EDC spokeswoman said the agency was “actively reviewing” its financing agreement with Transnet. This month, after the latest reports emerged, EDC said its investigation is still under way.

“We take this matter very seriously and are continuing to review the portion of the transaction that involves EDC,” spokeswoman Shelley Maclean said in a statement to The Globe.

“The investigations are still ongoing and we are following developments as they occur,” she said.

In addition to the investigations commissioned by Transnet and the government, South African police are looking into the Transnet locomotive deal.

Godfrey Lebeya, head of South Africa’s priority crime police unit, known as the Hawks, told a parliamentary committee three investigators have been assigned to probe evidence of fraud, corruption and money-laundering in the locomotive deal. Bank accounts have been examined and witness statements were obtained, but no suspects have been identified so far, he said.

After the locomotive contract was awarded, the manufacturers “inflated the price,” Mr. Lebeya told the committee last month. “They have failed to deliver. However, the state funds were paid.”

The report commissioned by Transnet was conducted by a South African law firm, MNS Attorneys, and obtained by South African media and The Globe. The 144-page report is described as preliminary, but it was presented to the Transnet board of directors in June and continued to be used by the government this month as it suspended several Transnet executives and board members for alleged misconduct.

In raising concerns about what seemed to be an “excessive and unjustifiable” US$60-million relocation fee paid to Bombardier, the MNS report said the relocation costs were not properly assessed by Transnet and were not substantiated by Bombardier. It recommended that Transnet should appoint an expert to study the costs and consider legal action to recover any excess.

Bombardier’s vice-president of external relations, Olivier Marcil, said the company rejects any allegations of unethical behaviour. “We fully support, and stand ready to co-operate with, any investigation commissioned by government,” he told The Globe.

“Bombardier has nothing to hide. We respect the laws that govern South Africa and are confident that we have been in full compliance with the highest standards of governance.”

Mr. Marcil said the company will not comment on the specific details of the latest reports because it is still talking to Transnet and the government to provide the facts.

He said Bombardier was never contacted or asked to provide information or comments for the latest investigations, and he said their preliminary conclusions were never shared with Bombardier.

“It is important to note that, as acknowledged by their authors, these allegations are documented in preliminary reports, and consequently are not conclusive or proven."

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