Canadian Manufacturing

SNC-Lavalin hit with fraud, corruption charges

RCMP has laid charges against the engineering firm and two subsidiaries for alleged dirty business dealings in Libya



MONTREAL—The RCMP has laid fraud and corruption charges against Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin and two of its subsidiaries.

The charges follow an investigation into the companies business dealings in Libya, between 2001 and 2011, and allegations that they paid millions of dollars to public officials.

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., SNC-Lavalin International Inc. and SNC-Lavalin Construction Inc. have each been charged with one count of fraud under section 380 of the Criminal Code of Canada and one count of corruption under Section 3(1)(b) of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

The RCMP alleges SNC-Lavalin paid nearly $47.7 million to induce public officials in Libya to use their influence on the company’s behalf.

They also allege the company, its construction division and its SNC-Lavalin International subsidiary, defrauded various Libyan organizations of about $129.8 million.

“SNC-Lavalin firmly considers that the charges are without merit and will vigorously defend itself and plead not guilty in the interest of its current employees, families, partners, clients, investors and other stakeholders,” the company said in a press release.

“The charges stem from the same alleged activities of former employees from over three years ago in Libya, which are publicly known, and that the company has cooperated on with authorities since then,” said Robert G. Card, president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.

“Even though SNC-Lavalin has already incurred significant financial damage and losses as a result of actions taken prior to March 2012, we have always been and remain willing to reach a reasonable and fair solution that promotes accountability, while permitting us to continue to do business and protect the livelihood of our over 40,000 employees, our clients, our investors and our other stakeholders.”

The company has faced an onslaught of controversy after the its former construction boss, Riadh Ben Aissa, was charged with bribing Saadi Gadhafi, son of Libya’s late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, so SNC-Lavalin could win contracts in the north African country.

A Swiss court accepted a guilty plea from Ben Aissa last year, handing him time served for his role in the case.

Ben Aissa acknowledged in court that he bribed Gadhafi, and admitted to pocketing commissions. He was behind bars for 29 months.

Card told the Globe and Mail‘s editorial board in October 2014 the engineering giant that could be forced to shut its doors or sell its operations if it faced criminal charges.

The engineering firm, which says the new charges have no impact on its ability to bid on or complete projects, has launched a full out charm offensive to deal with the public relations fall out. This web page outline’s the company’s response to the charges and includes a slick video highlighting SNC-Lavalin’s long standing economic contributions.

This story is developing, more to come…

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