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Ed Martin says risks were being discussed as project progressed
Forensic auditors with Grant Thornton say there’s no evidence former Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin ever received a copy of a 2013 SNC-Lavalin risk report for the Muskrat Falls Project. The report warned of greater-than-expected cost risks on the project, with figures materially different to those of Nalcor Energy.
The auditor’s report is in evidence at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry, and available online.
Martin spoke to reporters Tuesday, on the heels of a related story published by The Telegram, to correct what he considered to be an unfair impression left with the public regarding his knowledge of the SNC-Lavalin risk report.
Whatever anyone else at Nalcor Energy may have known, he reiterated he was not aware of the SNC-Lavalin document.
Martin said he was glad to see the Grant Thornton auditors spoke with former SNC-Lavalin CEO Bob Card, who he confirmed met with him in April 2013, where topics for discussion included project risks.
“He was clear in his discussions with me that he did not indicate there was a report. He didn’t offer me a report. And obviously I didn’t see a report. Just as I had said (when the existence of the report was first raised in 2017),” Martin told reporters.
Martin said the he and Card talked about different risks that could cause the project’s overall cost to increase, but not in the specific context of an assessment SNC-Lavalin had in hand.
“I wanted to clarify, because it seems to me the impression has been left that I did know there was a report or something like that. That’s not true,” he said.
The auditor’s report includes a transcript of the interview with the former SNC-Lavalin CEO.
“The contents, there was not a time in my recollection where a report was laid on the table and we said now, chapter one, chapter two, chapter three. The discussion was the general perception if risk around the project, the approach to managing the contractors, the labour issues. The issues in the risk report would have been reviewed throughout that whole process,” Card said.
He was asked if he ever told Martin about the amount of risk exposure SNC-Lavalin was looking at in its report, at $2.4 billion.
"I can't for sure sat that I said that. At the minimum we would have said we think it would be extraordinarily difficult to deliver this with the promised budget and schedule with the current approach,” Card told the auditors. “In fact, it would be difficult (to meet budget) even if the approach was changed to something that I would be more comfortable with in my experience with large project management."
In the interview, Card also mentions comments coming to him from his own team, saying they were having difficulty getting the information they felt was needed to properly assess risks. Card said it was something he and Martin discussed.
The Telegram has not reported Martin had a copy of the SNC-Lavalin report.
Apart from the meeting with Martin, as reported, the auditor highlighted an email from May 2013, citing it as proof Nalcor Energy’s Paul Harrington and Gilbert Bennett knew about the risk analysis performed by SNC-Lavalin.
And at the end of May 2013, SNC-Lavalin’s Jean-Daniel Tremblay and Normand Bechard met with Paul Harrington. Notes by Tremblay taken about that meeting make reference to SNC-Lavalin’s risk assessment report, and concerns of public disclosure of information.
Meanwhile, auditor Scott Shaffer with Grant Thornton continues on the stand at the inquiry, taking questions on the auditor’s report on Muskrat Falls construction. Martin’s lawyer will have an opportunity to question Shaffer for any further clarification as needed.