Nalcor Energy defends hiring company now facing Muskrat Falls lawsuits

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown energy corporation is defending hiring a construction firm that now faces several lawsuits and has ties to a key witness at Quebec’s inquiry on corruption.

A public benefits report in February 2013 says Nalcor Energy named Opron Construction as an approved bidder to build administrative structures at the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador.

That same month, Quebec construction boss Joe Borsellino — whose interests included Opron — was denying ties to the Mafia at the Charbonneau commission on corruption.

Opron later won the Muskrat Falls contract, and is now named in several unproven lawsuits filed by sub-contractors who claim they’re owed money.

Opron has filed few statements of defence but in one, involving sub-contractor Black & McDonald Ltd., denies it owes the company almost $4.5 million.

Nalcor vice-president Gilbert Bennett says Borsellino was not included in Opron’s proposal or evaluation of a contract worth between $10 million and $20 million.

He says Opron offered the best value for the now completed buildings, and that liens by subcontractors on large projects are common.

The Canadian Press