Written by By Abigail Van Buren, CNN
An engineer for the Canadian Space Agency has been charged with bribing Canadian MPs and cabinet ministers to get a key work contract.
The former engineer is also accused of being an agent of a foreign entity, QinetiQ North America, a joint venture between China’s state-owned military equipment firm, China North Industries Corp. and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, according to documents released Thursday by the Canadian authorities.
Mike Maslowski, a former engineer for the Canadian Space Agency, pictured at a press conference in 2012. Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Earlier this year the RCMP investigation began after several government officials allegedly received thousands of dollars in cash in return for support for the satellite contract.
A former Canadian Liberal Party cabinet minister was also charged in the case, facing multiple counts of bribery and breach of trust.
The former Canadian Liberal Party cabinet minister, pictured above, is one of several people to be charged in the case. Credit: Phil Walter/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
The case centers on a Chinese satellite proposed to provide surveillance and early warning of accidents involving space debris — a key part of Canada’s military capabilities.
The launch has also been a source of diplomatic tension. On September 7, two Chinese long-range ballistic missiles flew around Canada. The launch drew protests from Canada, which has been engaged in a years-long trade dispute with China over its naval activities in the area.
Canadian space scientist Rosie MacLennan, pictured on the left, is named as an organizer of the alleged bribery of Canadian officials by a Chinese company. Credit: Rick Bowmer/AP
The Canadian Space Agency, which has since been overhauled, issued a brief statement Monday: “We cannot comment on the ongoing investigation in full. We are aware of the charges and will continue to cooperate.”
The former Canadian Conservative Party lawmaker, Stewart Elgie, has been charged with two counts of bribery. Credit: Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press via AP
Falcons, Jaguars, Gypsies and space
QinetiQ has a rich history in Canada. It was founded in 1919 as a subsidiary of Britain’s Bletchley Park Research Laboratories, during World War I, to aid British and Allied forces by tracking down German submarines.
The company was also instrumental in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Canada developed its first-ever orbiting satellite.
CFO Robin Larsson speaks at the memorial service for Boies Ross, Canada’s first satellite. Credit: AP
“While the U.S. got Sputnik, Canada got Boies Ross,” Robin Larsson, Canada’s former deputy minister of defense told Sky News in 2006. “It’s a huge engineering triumph.”
“It was a very brave country to undertake this space program,” former president of the Canadian Space Agency Frank Labovitch said in a 2006 interview with Maclean’s magazine.
Ottawa’s version of “North Moon” pictured in the 1980s. Credit: Supplied by Canadian Space Agency
Later efforts included the deployment of the Canadian Global Positioning System (C-GPS) in 1999, which remains a major part of the country’s military’s space capabilities.