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Informatique EBR president sheds new light on corruption allegations

The Quebec City office of Informatique EBR

The president of Quebec City solution provider Informatique EBR Inc. has gone on the record to shed more light on the arrest of its employees in connection with a Revenue Québec corruption scheme, including the fact that he thinks one of them is innocent.

Of the seven individuals arrested yesterday accused of exchanging privileged information to secure a lucrative government IT contract, Mohamed El Khayat was a former EBR employee, while Jean-François Robidas served as the vice president of sales for the company.  The latter was suspended following his arrest.

EBR president Denis Blais with Mohamed El Khayat

EBR president Denis Blais with Mohamed El Khayat

According to EBR president Denis Blais, El Khayat was suspended back in June 2014 when allegations first emerged.  El Khayat’s employment was officially terminated in October of last year in view of EBR’s application for accreditation from the province’s financial markets regular AMF (Autorité des marchés financiers), which was granted in February, allowing the company to bid on government contracts.

Blais told CDN that while he had been aware of allegations against El Khayat, he was shocked by the arrest of Robidas.

“I’m no judge, but I am really surprised about the allegations against Mr. Robidas,” Blais said.  “I think it’s possible that he is innocent. We will have to wait to see as more information emerges.”

Other individuals arrested in the raid included IBM employees Patrick Fortin, Gilles Gariépy and Daniel Letourneau. Revenue Quebec employees arrested include Hamid Iatmanene and Jamal El Khaiat, who has been confirmed to be Mohamed El Khayat’s brother.

They are facing charges of fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy to obtain a contract worth $24 million to provide Revenue Quebec with data management IT.  The request for proposals has since been cancelled, Blais said.

According to Blais, while EBR lost about five per cent of business back in June when allegations first emerged, it’s too early to tell what impact yesterday’s arrests will have on the company.  He also did not make the connection between EBR and IBM, aside from the fact that they had been business partners in the past.

Blais emphasized that the arrests were a reflection on the individual employees rather than the companies.

CDN also contacted a prominent Quebec City-based solution provider who requested anonymity but said this news about Informatique EBR hurts all resellers in Quebec specifically those who are doing business with the government. He said that he is not surprised about the raids and added that these arrests didn’t happen by chance.

Meanwhile, IBM Canada issued a statement saying that it is “committed to the principles of business ethics and lawful conduct. We will continue to cooperate fully with local authorities investigating this matter.”

In 2013, Informatique EBR placed 26th on the CDN Top 100 Solution Providers list, reporting revenues between $50-75 million dollars.  Last year, the company declined to participate in the rankings.

Quebec’s anti-corruption squad, UPAC is still seeking one more suspect.

Mohamed El Khayat at the Informatique EBR office

Mohamed El Khayat at the Informatique EBR office

El Khayet, along with Blais and Guy Roy founded the solution provider back in 1990. The first letter of each co-founder’s surname make up EBR. Roy left the firm shortly after it was founded.

Informatique EBR’s Web site listed vendor partners such as IBM, VMware, Lexmark, Lenovo, Microsoft, Xerox, ViewSonic, Cisco Systems, Toshiba, Aruba Networks, LG Electronics, Brocade Communications, Samsung, Sophos, Hitachi, BenQ, Tripp-Lite, APC/Schneider Electric and ShoreTel.

The story is developing.  Check back with CDN for more coverage.