The Address | Benghazi – Libya
CANADA – One of Canada’s biggest engineering companies is at the center of what appears to be a growing scandal engulfing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government.
The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that SNC-Lavalin lobbied the government to agree to a deferred prosecution agreement or remediation agreement. The company faces charges of fraud and corruption in connection with nearly $48 million in payments made to Libyan government officials between 2001 and 2011.
Trudeau denies he directed his former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to intervene in the prosecution. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her position last month and has refused to comment on the story.
SNC-Lavalin has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The case is at the preliminary hearing stage. If convicted, the company could be banned from bidding on any federal government contracts for 10 years.
In November 2011, shortly after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, a consultant hired by SNC-Lavalin was arrested in Mexico, accused of trying to smuggle Gadhafi’s son and other family members out of Libya and into Mexico.
Cyndy Vanier spent 18 months in a Mexican jail before being released. She always said her contract with SNC-Lavalin was to help facilitate the travel of SNC employees in and out of Libya. She was never charged in Canada.
In February 2015, the RCMP charged SNC-Lavalin and two of its subsidiaries with corruption and fraud in connection to years of dealings by the company in Libya.
Police alleged that between 2001 and 2011, the company offered Libyan government officials under the Moammar Gadhafi regime bribes worth $47.7 million to influence decisions.
It also charged that during the same time frame, the company defrauded the Libyan government and other entities of “property, money or valuable security or service” worth approximately $129.8 million.
Three former SNC-Lavalin employees were charged: Aïssa and Roy, as well as Sami Bébawi, who had been an executive in SNC’s construction division.
Aïssa, whom SNC-Lavalin characterized as a rogue employee, was arrested in Switzerland in April 2012 and charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering, all stemming from SNC-Lavalin business in Libya. He spent 29 months in jail there, but eventually struck a deal. Aissa acknowledged in court that he bribed Saadi Gadhafi, the late dictator’s son, so that SNC-Lavalin could win contracts.
Documents later revealed he worked with the RCMP on its investigation into the Libya case.
Bébawi, an executive in SNC’s construction division, still faces charges he defrauded and bribed Libyan officials involved in a pipeline project he secured with Aissa. His case is set to begin this spring.
Roy is also still facing charges in connection to the Libya case.
SNC-Lavalin has pleaded not guilty to the Libya charges. The case is before the courts.