COUNCIL leaders rejected a deal with a Chinese firm that has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Scottish Government.
Falkirk Council was asked to establish an agreement with the China Railway No 3 Engineering Group (CR3) late in 2015, but the authority said “their approach was not in an appropriate form we could progress and, to date, the matter has not been taken forward”.
The revelation prompted fresh calls for Nicola Sturgeon, who signed the memorandum (MOU) to “urgently spell out the details of what the Chinese consortium propose for Scottish projects”.
Labour has been pushing for the SNP leader to publish all documents relating to the agreement after it emerged China Railway Group Limited (CRG), the owner of CR3, has been hit by corruption allegations in its homeland which resulted in Norway’s oil fund blacklisting the firm.
Falkirk Council confirmed it was approached by agents acting for both CR3 and SinoFortone - the two companies which signed the MOU with the Government before the Scottish Parliament was dissolved in March in the run up to the election.
Investment company SinoFortone has said that agreement could bring about infrastructure projects with a potential value of £10 billion to Scotland in areas including clean energy, transport and affordable housing.
The Scottish Government is reported to have stepped in to broker talks between Falkirk Council and SinoFortone, although the council said it had “not heard anything further” from the company.
Labour public services spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “The more we learn about the secret deal the SNP signed with the Chinese consortium the more questions there are. Nicola Sturgeon needs to start telling the truth, fast.
“Falkirk Council said they knocked back a deal with this Chinese company because it wouldn’t create local jobs - the SNP now need to urgently spell out the details of what the Chinese consortium propose for Scottish projects.”
Ms Sturgeon has insisted the MOU is to “explore options” for investment, insisting there are “no actual proposals on the table’’ at the moment.
But Ms Baillie said: “We have a Scottish council explicitly saying that the SNP Government and one of the companies in the consortium discussed specific plans.
“Nicola Sturgeon has simply not been telling the truth and that is completely unacceptable. Having signed a secret deal, the SNP have sought to mislead Scots about what the details where.
“This deal stinks and it has done from the very beginning. It’s time for the SNP to come clean about this deal and publish all the documents relating to it going back to when discussions first started.”
A Falkirk Council spokesman said: “We were approached by agents acting for both China Railway No 3 Group and SinoFortone in late 2015.
“As we would with any developer, we provided general information on our local development plan as well as information relating to potential sites for investment and house building.
“Subsequently, we were asked to establish an agreement with China Railway No 3, however their approach was not in an appropriate form we could progress and, to date, the matter has not been taken forward. We have not heard anything further from SinoFortone.”