Canada's SNC-Lavalin settles Libya bribery case that shook Trudeau government

By Allison Lampert and Kelsey Johnson MONTREAL/OTTAWA (Reuters) - A division of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc pleaded guilty to fraud and will pay a C$280 million (£164.08 million) fine, the company said on Wednesday, in a case related to projects in Libya that engulfed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government in crisis. The construction and engineering company reached a settlement after being accused of bribing Libyan officials to get contracts between 2001 and 2011. As part of the deal, all charges against SNC-Lavalin Group and its international marketing arm were withdrawn, SNC said in a statement, sending its shares up nearly 20% in afternoon trading

Reuters December 19, 2019 03:11:09 IST
Canada's SNC-Lavalin settles Libya bribery case that shook Trudeau government

Canadas SNCLavalin settles Libya bribery case that shook Trudeau government

By Allison Lampert and Kelsey Johnson

MONTREAL/OTTAWA (Reuters) - A division of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc pleaded guilty to fraud and will pay a C$280 million (£164.08 million) fine, the company said on Wednesday, in a case related to projects in Libya that engulfed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government in crisis.

The construction and engineering company reached a settlement after being accused of bribing Libyan officials to get contracts between 2001 and 2011.

As part of the deal, all charges against SNC-Lavalin Group and its international marketing arm were withdrawn, SNC said in a statement, sending its shares up nearly 20% in afternoon trading.

SNC-Lavalin Construction pleaded guilty to one fraud charge. It will also pay a C$280 million ($211 million) fine in equal instalments over five years, and will be subject to three years of probation, the parent company said, adding that it would also engage an independent monitor as part of the probation.

"This is a game-changer for the company and finally allows us to put this issue behind us," said SNC-Lavalin CEO Ian Edwards, who also apologized in the statement.

AltaCorp analyst Chris Murray called the penalty significant but noted it was lower than the C$500 million he had estimated.

Federal prosecutor Richard Roy told reporters that a fine as high as C$280 million "has been rarely given in Canadian history," adding that it reflects the severity of the crime.

SNC-Lavalin Construction admitted that between 2001 and 2011 it directed millions to the son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to secure contracts for the unit.

The case triggered a political crisis for Trudeau, and raised fears of Canadian job losses, as a conviction would have barred SNC-Lavalin from bidding on government contracts for a decade.

SNC lawyer François Fontaine told reporters that the deal leaves the firm "free to bid as normal" on public contracts. The dropping of bribery charges against SNC-Lavalin would also allow it to continue bidding on international contracts, he said.

Trudeau's government, re-elected with a minority in October, faced allegations that top officials pressured former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to direct prosecutors to strike a deal rather than go ahead with a trial.

SNC-Lavalin had asked for a deferred prosecution agreement on the grounds it had removed the executives who were in charge at the time and overhauled its ethics and compliance systems.

Wilson-Raybould tweeted on Wednesday that "accountability was achieved".

(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.