SNC-Lavalin charged with fraud

By Neill Barston20 February 2015

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Division (RCMP) has charged the SNC-Lavalin Group and two of its subsidiaries with corruption and fraud in its business dealings in Libya.

According to the RCMP, the charges relate to a period from 16 August 2001 to 20 September, 2011, when it was alleged that CA$ 47.7 million (US$ 38.3 million) or more was agreed or offered to public officials in Libya to obtain commercial business advantages.

The Montreal-headquartered SNC-Lavalin construction group is also charged with fraud totalling CA$ 129.8 million (US$ 104.3 million). This was in relation to the Great Man Made River Project in Libya and other groups including the General People’s Committee for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority of Libya.

The alleged wrong-doing first came to light in 2012 when a series of suspect payments in Libya came to light through an internal audit. The resignation and arrest of company CEO Pierre Duhaime and vice president Riadh Ben Aïssa followed.

This episode marked the start of a torrid period for the company, which also saw it debarred from World Bank projects following the discovery of corruption on the Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh.

SNC-Lavalin has said it will enter a not guilty plea against the latest charges filed by the RCMP. It stressed that it had introduced a new ethics code in the wake of allegations against the company.

Its president and CEO Robert G Card said, “The charges stem from the same alleged activities of former employees from over three years ago in Libya, which are publicly known, and the company has co-operated on with authorities since then.

“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.”

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