SNC Lavalin sues former employee for damages

By Helen Wright23 July 2013

SNC-Lavalin building

SNC-Lavalin building

Canadian contractor SNC Lavalin has filed a lawsuit against a former executive vice president, Riadh Ben Aissa, together with a former consultant, in connection with a string of suspect payments in Libya.

The contractor alleges that Mr Ben Aissa, consultant Cynthia Vanier and her company, Vanier Consulting, conspired with SNC Lavalin's former vice president, Stephane Roy, to commit illegal acts with funds belonging to SNC Lavalin.

These acts are reported to have included an alleged plot to smuggle former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi's son, Saadi Gadhafi, to Mexico in the wake of the uprising in Libya.

The company said the funds were diverted and used without its permission, and cited as evidence emails exchanged between Ms Vanier, Mr Roy and Mr Ben Aissa during 2011. A separate claim was previously made against Mr Roy in April this year.

The Canadian court granted the company’s request to seize Mr Ben Aissa's shares in SNC Lavalin, which are currently being held in a trust and will be used to satisfy a portion of the damages SNC Lavalin claims it has incurred. The company is also seeking further damages from Mr Ben Aissa as well as Ms Vanier and her consulting company.

Mr Ben Aissa is currently being held by Swiss authorities on suspicion of corruption, fraud and money-laundering in North Africa.

Allegations of improper payments and conduct in Libya have followed SNC Lavalin for the past 18 months, and several of its former executives have been arrested, including its former CEO Pierre Duhaime.

Mr Duhaime resigned last year in the wake of an internal investigation which found he signed-off on US$ 35.5 million in suspect payments, even though they were refused by the normal signatories.

And in January this year, fresh details of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s investigation into the contractor revealed that it is accused of paying up to CA$ 160 million (US$ 162 million) in bribes to Saadi Gadhafi in order to secure contracts in the country.

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