06/03/2013 12:23 EDT | Updated 08/03/2013 05:12 EDT

SNC-Lavalin offices in Algeria raided amid bribery probe

Police in Algeria have raided the offices of SNC-Lavalin in the capital Algiers amid a probe into allegations of bribery and kickbacks involving public officials and agents hired by SNC-Lavalin to procure a number of large infrastructure projects, CBC News has learned.

“The search was last Monday and the authorities have given us no details,” SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman Leslie Quinton told CBC. “The investigation included a search of our offices with which we co-operated in order to assist the authorities to obtain whatever information is needed to resolve the matters in question.

"We understand and appreciate their concern, given the current Algerian context, and are committed to helping them bring this to a resolution and reacting as required.”

Quinton says the government has supplied no specifics as to what investigators are looking for, or what alleged impropriety they are trying to figure out, and the company won't comment further.

A bribery scandal involving Algeria’s state-run oil company Sonatrach has put a focus on several foreign companies operating there. Investigators in Switzerland are reportedly probing allegations of suspicious payments of more than $200 million by a number of mainly oil and gas companies — plus SNC-Lavalin — to a hired agent who is the nephew of a former Algerian foreign affairs minister.

Montreal-based SNC recently placed a full-page ad in an Algerian newspaper pledging co-operation, citing an “open letter” by SNC president and chief executive officer Robert Card. Card wrote that the engineering and construction firm wants to “turn the page on this unfortunate chapter.”

A number of sources have told CBC News that SNC-Lavalin currently has a number of proposals and bids submitted on major projects in the country which have been quietly rejected by Algerian government officials. However, there has been no formal announcement by the government on whether SNC-Lavalin has been banned from bidding on projects.

“We have not been officially informed of any suspension of the right to bid nor to work on current projects, and are currently in discussions with the government to help them have a better understanding of the issues,” Quinton told CBC News.