SNC-Lavalin building

SNC-Lavalin building

Canadian authorities have charged two former executives of contractor SNC-Lavalin with bribery of officials in Libya.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is reported to have levied criminal charges against Sami Bebawi, a former vice-president at the Montreal-based contractor, and Stéphane Roy, another former SNC-Lavalin executive.

Charges against Mr Bebawi include defrauding the Libyan state under the previous Gadhafi regime, corruption and money laundering.

The former executive is accused of bribing government officials in return for public construction contracts. There is an outstanding warrant for his arrest, and he is believed to be living outside Canada.

Meanwhile, Mr Roy is due to appear in court on 5 March accused of bribing Saadi Gadhafi – the son of the former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Saadi Gadhafi was in charge of public works in Libya.

In January last year, the RCMP released details of its investigation into SNC-Lavalin, including the accusation that it paid up to CA$ 160 million (US$ 162 million) in bribes to Saadi Gadhafi.

Other former executives from SNC-Lavalin have also been implicated, including Riadh Ben Aïssa, the former head of SNC-Lavalin's activities in Libya. Mr Aïssa was arrested in Switzerland in 2012 as part of an investigation by the Ministère Public de la Confédération (Federal Prosecutor) into corruption, fraud and money laundering.

In September 2013, Mr Aïssa lost an extradition hearing in Switzerland and is now awaiting extradition to Canada.

Several corruption scandals have kept SNC-Lavalin in the headlines over recent years. In September last year, for instance, the RCMP charged former SNC-Lavalin executive Kevin Wallace with bribing a foreign official in Bangladesh.

These charges and allegations related to the Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh, where SNC-Lavalin was to have acted as the client’s engineer. However, funding for the US$ 2.9 billion scheme was withdrawn by the World Bank and others following allegations of corruption by the contractor.

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