Canada’s SNC-Lavalin settles Libya bribery case that shook Trudeau government
19 Dec 2019

A division of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc pleaded guilty to fraud and will pay a C$280 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As part of the deal, all charges against SNC-Lavalin Group and its international marketing arm were withdrawn, SNC said in a statement, sending its shares up nearly 20% in afternoon trading.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.

By Allison Lampert and Kelsey Johnson, Reuters, 18 December 2019

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