Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin paid $160 million in bribes to the son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in order to secure contracts in the North African country, according to RCMP documents obtained by the National Post and La Presse.
According to the documents, which were used by the RCMP to obtain a search warrant for a raid on SNC-Lavalin headquarters last spring, the company’s former head of construction, Riadh Ben Aissa, was responsible for funnelling the money to Saadi Gaddafi, the Post reported.
The 39-year-old son of the deceased Libyan leader is wanted by Interpol and has been granted asylum in Niger.
Some of the bribe money was allegedly used to purchase luxury yachts and even a condo in Toronto, La Presse reported.
Swiss authorities arrested Ben Aissa last April, alleging fraud and conspiracy, but have remained vague on the details.
But according to an email from an “anonymous insider,” obtained by the CBC, Ben Aissa "organized more than 300 million [dollars in] payments to shell companies acting as intermediaries between SNC-Lavalin and the Libyan government (ie the Gaddafi family)” since the early 1990s.
The RCMP documents also allege senior SNC executives were involved in a plot to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi out of Libya and into Mexico during Libya’s civil war in 2011.
Cynthia Vanier, a Canadian citizen and SNC employee, has been in a Mexican jail for more than a year, accused of aiding the smuggling plot. A judge will soon decide whether to send the case to trial or drop the charges against Vanier.
The documents allege former SNC vice-president of finance Stephane Roy was involved in the plot to smuggle Gaddafi to Mexico. Roy was forced out of the company last spring, as the arrests and allegations surrounding SNC-Lavalin’s activities were mounting.
The RCMP documents may shed some light on the arrest of former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime, who was picked up by Quebec’s anti-corruption unit last fall on charges of fraud, conspiracy and use of false documents.
Duhaime resigned as CEO last spring, after an internal company audit found he had signed off on $56 million in questionable payments.
WHO IS PIERRE DUHAIME?
Pierre Duhaime is the former CEO of Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. Duhaime resigned in March 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. According to the Financial Post, Duhaime received $5 million in severance when he left. Photo: Graham Hughes/CP
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 tried to bribe Bangladeshi officials. The company also faces a money-laundering probe from the Swiss authorities.
SNC-Lavalin 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.
The company came under fire for its work in Libya. A former SNC-Lavalin executive was accused of funneling cash to the Gaddafi family. The Globe and Mail did an in-depth look at the company's long relationship with Libya. In a 2011 interview with Macleans magazine, Duhaime defended the company's work with the despotic regime including building a prison.
Duhaime spoke out in 2011 against a public inquiry into corruption 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