Canadian Manufacturing

SNC Lavalin says Swiss investigating agents hired for Libya projects

Firm says Duvel Securities, Dinova International hired in connection with projects between 2001-11

MONTREAL—SNC-Lavalin has confirmed that it made payments for more than a decade to commercial agents for projects in Libya, payments it says were part of an investigation by Swiss authorities.

The Montreal-based engineering and construction giant said it retained Duvel Securities Inc. and Dinova International Inc. in connection with projects in the North African country between 2001 and 2011.

The payments were unrelated to the $56-million in payments for two projects that were disclosed following an independent investigation by the company, said spokeswoman Leslie Quinton.

“However, subsequent to the independent review, we learned that all or certain payments made to these companies were likely being reviewed by Swiss authorities in their investigation,” she said in an email.

The statement came after a Swiss TV report said SNC-Lavalin’s former head of construction has been formally charged in relation to at least $139-million in payments in North Africa.

The company has long said those original $56-million in payments were not related to Libya.

Published reports have suggested that at least one of the unnamed projects was Montreal’s super-hospital.

SNC-Lavalin said it learned of the investigation into Riadh Ben Aissa by Swiss authorities in mid-April, after it disclosed the results of its independent review, but that it has limited information.

SNC-Lavalin said it provided information and documentation to the appropriate authorities, including what it had on Duvel and Dinova.

“While we are not aware of any evidence that funds paid to these companies were misused, to the extent any fiduciaries of the company are found to have misused company funds, we reserve our right to makes claims to recover these amounts, Quinton added.

“We also reiterate that we strongly believe that anyone found to have committed any wrongdoing in connection to this or any other investigation should be brought to justice.”

SNC-Lavalin said it will continue to co-operate with investigations and has taken steps to reinforce its procedures to strengthen internal controls and processes.

Swiss public broadcaster RTS, citing unnamed sources, reported that Ben Aissa faces charges, including money laundering that tie him to at least $139-million in payments.

The report said authorities have tracked money moving from SNC to Swiss bank accounts registered to companies in the British Virgin Islands.

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