Wednesday, February 26, 2020

SNC-Lavalin, at the heart of a political scandal in Canada, fined

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Relief for SNC-Lavalin, Canada's flagship engineering and construction company, and relief for Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The politico-judicial soap opera that undermined Mr. Trudeau’s campaign in the October elections, ended on Wednesday, December 18. The construction subsidiary of the Montreal giant, accused of fraud against the Libyan state since 2015, escapes all legal proceedings, after having pleaded guilty before the Court of Quebec.

Company fined 280 million Canadian dollars (192 million euros) payable over five years and has accepted a three-year probation period during which it agrees to abide by a code of "good conduct" ". A significant sum for this company which achieved a turnover of 10 billion Canadian dollars in 2018. The Federal Crown, in exchange, dropped its charges of "bribery of a foreign public official", which would have resulted in the company to be banned from public contracts for ten years.

Presidential suites, prostitutes and yacht

In the investigation document made public, the SNC-Lavalin subsidiary acknowledges that it paid some $ 127 million between 2001 and 2011 in order to obtain contracts in Libya. Fifty million benefited Saadi Gaddafi, one of the sons of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. He first received commissions paid through shell companies in tax havens, then saw the least of his desires fulfilled during visits to Canada: presidential suites in the best hotels, concert tickets for the Spice Girls, prostitutes (supporting invoices), construction of a champagne-colored yacht valued at $ 30 million… Payments ended in 2011 with the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

The judgment of the judicial process ratified Wednesday by the court of Quebec concerns at the same time SNC-Lavalin Construction, its parent company SNC-Lavalin and its international subsidiary. Investors appreciated. As of Wednesday evening, the group's title jumped 19% on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The deal ends a case that poisoned the end of Justin Trudeau's first term and weighed heavily on the climate for his re-election. In February, the Globe and Mail, a powerful Toronto-based daily, reports that the Prime Minister’s entourage has pressured Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to seek a “reparation agreement” between the firm and the state. This type of agreement allows a company to avoid any criminal prosecution in exchange for the recognition of its wrongs.

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