Sami Bébawi, 73, former head of international construction for Canadian engineer SNC-Lavalin, was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison on January 10 for his part in corrupt practices in Libya during the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.
The company separately settled its own corruption charges related to when its subsidiary SNC-Lavalin Construction pleaded guilty in the Court of Quebec to a single charge of fraud on December 18, 2019.
All other charges against SNC-Lavalin Group and its international marketing arm, SNC-Lavalin International, have been withdrawn as part of the settlement, which sees SNC-Lavalin Construction paying a CAD$280 million (US$214 million) fine over five years.
A Quebec Superior Court jury found Bébawi guilty on December 15, 2019 of all five counts he faced, including fraud, corruption of foreign officials and laundering proceeds of crime.
Canada’s Crown prosecution alleged that SNC-Lavalin transferred approximately CAD$113 million (US$86 million) to a shell company between the late 1990s and the end of the Gadhafi regime in 2011. The prosecution’s main witness, another former SNC-Lavalin executive, Riadh Ben Aissa, told jurors the money was used to reward Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saadi, for giving the company construction projects in the period totalling at least CAD$1.85 billion (US$1.4 billion).
The charges against SNC-Lavalin, the company, were brought in 2015, and related to activities in Libya during the period of 2001 to 2011.
“We are pleased to settle these legacy issues and remove these legal uncertainties overhanging the company,” said SNC-Lavalin Group board chairman Kevin G. Lynch. “We feel this settlement is fair, and we deeply regret this past behaviour which was contrary to our values and ethical standards. The company has changed a great deal, embraced a world-class integrity regime and culture, and going forward we have renewed confidence about the company’s future.”
SNC-Lavalin said it does not anticipate that the guilty plea will affect the eligibility of SNC-Lavalin Group companies to bid on future projects.