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SNC-Lavalin says new ethics chief coming from Dow Chemical; stars March 1

MONTREAL - SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) is hiring a senior executive from Dow Chemical Co. to oversee the Montreal-based company's governance, ethics and compliance efforts as it works to restore confidence in its practices.

David Wilkins will become SNC's chief compliance officer for the engineering and construction giant on March 1 and report to president and chief executive Robert Card.

Wilkins has held a similar position since 2008 at Dow Chemical, another global company. Prior to that, he was general counsel for Dow's Union Carbide subsidiary.

One of Card's biggest challenges since joining SNC-Lavalin in October 2012 has been to deal with fallout from multiple allegations of corruption levelled at certain former SNC senior executives.

Card was hired after SNC-Lavalin disclosed earlier in 2012 that $56 million in questionable payments had been made or approved by some senior executives.

Among the most prominent people to face accusations in the scandal was Pierre Duhaime, a former SNC chief executive. He was charged early last year with fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and issuing false documents.

Duhaime and another former top executive, Riadh Ben Aissa, face charges stemming from a contract involving the building of the multibillion-dollar McGill University Health Centre.

Under Card's leadership, SNC launched an amnesty program last summer that encouraged current employees to come forward. It said 32 admitted ethical violations but no major new problems.

Most recently, the RCMP charged two former vice-presidents in late January with fraud, bribery and other offences.

Sami Abdallah Bebawi has been charged with fraud over $5,000; two counts of laundering proceeds of crime; four counts of possession of property obtained by crime, and with bribing a foreign public official. Those charges were based on events between 2001 and 2013.

Stephane Roy, a former vice-president at SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC), has been charged with fraud over $5,000; bribing a foreign public official, and contravening a United Nations economic measures act related to Libya. Those charges are based on events between 2008 and 2012.

The Canadian Press

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