Quebec's anti-corruption squad has arrested Pierre Duhaime, the former CEO of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, according to multiple news reports.
Duhaime is suspected of conspiracy to defraud, fraud and forgery, TVA reported.
Duhaime served as an executive vice president at SNC Lavalin from 2003-2009 and CEO from 2009-2012. According to the Financial Post, he received $5 million in severance when he left.
The Canadian Press reports:
MONTREAL — Quebec's anti-corruption squad has struck at the highest levels of Canada's corporate world with the arrest Wednesday of former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime.
The provincial police unit says Duhaime faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and use of false documents.
Duhaime was arrested at his home early Wednesday by anti-corruption squad agents.
International proceedings are also underway against former SNC-Lavalin senior executive Riadh Ben Aissa, who was already arrested in Switzerland on fraud, money laundering and corruption charges.
The 101-year-old company, considered a Canadian success story, has been embroiled in scandal since the fall of the Gadhafi regime in Libya.
In September, an Ontario judge certified a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against SNC-Lavalin on behalf of investors who saw the value of their investment in the company plummet following revelations of mysterious payments in North Africa.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of all SNC-Lavalin investors who purchased SNC-Lavalin securities between Feb. 1, 2007, and Feb. 28, 2012, or who bought debentures through the company's June 2009 prospectus offering.
The lead plaintiff is Brent Gray, a resident of Surrey, B.C., who purchased 600 shares in January at $52.20 per share.
In addition to current and former members of SNC's board of directors, those named in the Ontario lawsuit include SNC-Lavalin International chairman Michael Novak. The claim said certain officials, including Duhaime and former controller Stephane Roy, assisted Ben Aissa in arranging ``improper or unlawful payments'' to secure contracts in Libya.
Duhaime, Roy and Ben Aissa have lost their jobs with SNC-Lavalin.
Ben Aissa, SNC's former head of construction, was last reported to be in a Swiss jail on suspicion of corrupting a public official, fraud and money laundering tied to his dealings in North Africa.
The engineering and construction giant's initial review led to it finding $56 million of payments to unidentified foreign agents. The company has insisted that none of the funds were directed to Libya.
SNC-Lavalin removed $900 million worth of Libyan projects from its backlog in 2010 amid the civil war in the North African country.
The RCMP has already executed search warrants at SNC-Lavalin's headquarters at the request of Swiss police.
In Quebec, the anti-corruption unit was created in the wake of other scandals surrounding collusion in the construction industry and its links to political parties and organized crime.
It has arrested numerous construction-industry players, and people tied to municipal political parties since its creation last year.
Pierre Duhaime is the former CEO of Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/26/snc-lavalin-ceo-quits-pierre-duhaime_n_1379182.html">Duhaime resigned in March</a> after an internal investigation revealed some $56 million in questionable payments. He was arrested on Nov. 28, 2012. Duhaime served as an executive vice president at SNC Lavalin from 2003-2009 and CEO from 2009-2012. <a href="http://business.financialpost.com/2012/04/03/snc-lavalin-to-pay-exiting-ceo-close-to-5-million-in-severance/">According to the Financial Post</a>, Duhaime received $5 million in severance when he left. Photo: Graham Hughes/CP
Corruption At SNC Lavalin
SNC-Lavalin, one of Canada's largest engineering firms, has been under scrutiny for various corruption charges. A report stated that employees from the company <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/21/snc-lavalin-bribes_n_1617129.html">tried to bribe Bangladeshi officials.</a> The company also faces <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/25/snc-lavalin-case_n_2188620.html">a money-laundering probe from the Swiss authorities.</a>
How Big Is SNC-Lavalin?
<a href="http://www.snclavalin.com/index.php?lang=en">SNC-Lavalin</a> is one of the largest engineering firms in the world. In Canada they have worked on such well-known projects as Highway 407 in the GTA, the Montreal subway system and Calgary and Vancouver's light-rail systems.
Ties To Libya
The company came under fire for its work in Libya. A former SNC-Lavalin executive was accused of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/02/snc-lavalin-riadh-ben-aissa-libya-gadhafi_n_1469993.html">funneling cash to the Gaddafi family.</a> The Globe and Mail did an <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/snc-lavalins-gadhafi-disaster-the-inside-story/article4570115/?page=all">in-depth look at the company's long relationship with Libya.</a> In a 2011 interview with Macleans magazine, <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/04/11/on-diplomacy-through-capitalism-his-firms-projects-in-libya-and-the-future-of-nuclear-power/">Duhaime defended the company's work with the despotic regime</a> including building a prison.
Against Quebec Corruption Probe
Duhaime <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/09/19/quebec-construction-corruption-snc-lavalin_n_970661.html">spoke out in 2011 against a public inquiry into corruption</a> in Quebec's construction sector. "What is surprising is that the report touches so many areas with so few facts. It surprised me to see a report with so little substance but so many allusions," he said to the Canadian Club in Montreal in September, 2011. Photo: CP Files