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« 'Magnitsky sanctions' worry Russia business elite | Main | Cleaning up the Indian environment »
Monday
Jan282013

Police affidavit alleges massive SNC-Lavalin bribes in Libya

An affidavit prepared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police alleges that a former SNC-Lavalin executive arranged more than $160 million in bribes to the son of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in exchange for engineering contracts.

The Globe and Mail reported Friday that Riadh Ben Aissa, who was charged by Canadian authorities in November with fraud and corruption, arranged the massive payments to Saadi Gadhafi, 38, described in the affidavit as a friend of Ben Aissa.

The 59-page police affidavit prepared in April 2012 was unsealed Friday. It was used to secure a search warrant for SNC-Lavalin’s headquarters in Montreal.

'The search was part of a sweeping criminal investigation under Canada’s foreign bribery law that involves police in this country and anti-corruption investigators in Switzerland,' the Globe and Mail said.

In November last year, the former CEO of SNC-Lavalin was arrested in Canada for fraud and forgery. The allegations were connected to at least two projects in Canada. Pierre Duhaime, 58, left the company earlier in 2012 after an internal audit found more than $50 million in payments to middlemen that couldn't be traced to the performance of any services.

In April 2012, Swiss authorities jailed Riadh Ben Aissa for suspicion of money laundering and bribery linked to the Canada projects.

In June last year, two other executives from SNC-Lavalin were charged in Toronto with bribing officials in Bangladesh in connection with bidding for the $1.2 billion Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh.

Ramesh Shah and Mohammad Ismail were arrested after a raid by Royal Canadian Mounted Police on SNC-Lavalin's offices.

The Globe and Mail said some of the money allegedly paid to Saadi Gadhafi was used 'to buy two yachts, pay condo fees and renovate his luxury Toronto penthouse at a price tag of $200,000. One of the yachts, a champagne-coloured vessel known as the Hokulani, is 150 feet and features a private movie theatre.'

The investigation of SNC-Lavalin's stretches back to its operations in Libya starting in 2001, according to the Globe and Mail.

Saadi Gadhafi fled Libya in September 2011. The African country of Niger allowed him entry. Interpol has issued a 'red notice' for his arrest but Niger said he now has asylum and can't be extradited.

Late in 2011, Cynthia Vanier, a Canadian woman with ties to SNC-Lavalin, was jailed in Mexico. Authorities there reportedly uncovered a plot to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi and family members into the country.

Mexican police have alleged that Vanier rented a plane for a secret flight into Mexico.

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