Extradition approved for former SNC-Lavalin executive

By Helen Wright25 September 2013

SNC-Lavalin building

SNC-Lavalin building

Riadh Ben Aissa, a former executive vice president of SNC Lavalin, is reportedly set to return to Canada to face fraud, bribery and money laundering charges.

Mr Ben Aissa lost an extradition appeal hearing in Switzerland, where he is currently in custody.

According to Canada’s National Post, an extradition ruling by Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court dealing with the case of an unnamed Tunisian-Canadian being held on fraud and conspiracy charges relates to Mr Ben Aissa. Court documents reveal that Canadian authorities requested his extradition in January.

Mr Ben Aïssa parted company with SNC-Lavalin on February 11 last year, along with vice president controller Stéphane Roy, as questions began to be raised about their conduct.

Two weeks later, an investigation by SNC-Lavalin unearthed a series of suspect payments connected to its activities in North Africa totalling CA$ 35 million (US$ 35.5 million).

SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime resigned following the investigation, which found he signed-off on the payments, even though they were refused by the normal signatories. Mr Duhaime was subsequently arrested in Canada.

Mr Ben Aissa is wanted in Canada on corruption charges which also relate to alleged bid rigging on a Montreal hospital contract. CA$ 22.5 million (US$ 21.8 million) is alleged to have been used to bribe public officials in order to win the McGill Health Centre contract.

He was arrested in Switzerland in 2012, where authorities have also been investigating his activities in North Africa.

According to the National Post, the extradition is expected to take place in the coming months.

Meanwhile, in July this year SNC-Lavalin filed a lawsuit in Canada against Mr Ben Aissa, together with a former consultant, in connection with the suspect payments.

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