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Lavalin execs paid $160M to Gadhafi son

A former SNC-Lavalin executive allegedly paid the son of dictator Moammar Gadhafi $160 million in kickbacks to obtain major contracts in Libya, according to an unsealed affidavit from the RCMP's anti-corruption squad.

The RCMP affidavit used to obtain a search warrant of the engineering giant's Montreal headquarters last year said some of the money was paid for luxury yachts.

The search warrant document, which was later resealed, said the bribes were paid to Saadi Gadhafi by former SNC vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa, who is now jailed in Switzerland. He has denied any accusations.

The document also implicated Ben Aissa and former SNC-Lavalin controller Stephane Roy in an alleged effort to smuggle Gadhafi's son and his family to Mexico as the Libyan regime was failing in 2011.

Cpl. Brenda Makkad of the RCMP's Ottawa-based anti-corruption squad wrote in a sworn statement that Ben Aissa transferred 11.4 million euros and other funds to a bank account in Malta which ended up in various Dorion Business Ltd. accounts controlled by Saadi Gadhafi and labelled "consultant commissions paid by the "Societe Canadienne S&C Lavalin.''

She said the payoffs were used to buy yachts, including a 45-metre luxury vessel that was recently put up for sale.

SNC-Lavalin was also accused of spending $200,000 decorating Gadhafi's Toronto penthouse as well as paying condo fees. It also allegedly paid for security, hospitality and a private jet when Gadhafi visited Canada.

The embattled engineering giant said it only learned this week about some of the details contained in the affidavit and couldn't confirm the veracity of the new information. It is reviewing the document to see what actions it may take and vowed to act swiftly to address damages to the company and its interests if the allegations are proven.

"We are eager for this situation to be resolved in the courts and will continue to do everything in our power to assist the authorities to get to the bottom of these issues as rapidly as possible," it said in a statement Friday.

SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) says the affidavit contains some unspecified information that it voluntarily provided to authorities in March.

Ben Aissa, Roy and former CEO Pierre Duhaime left the company last February after an internal audit uncovered $56 million in payments to foreign agents, some of which allegedly was used for the Montreal superhospital contract project. SNC has always maintained these funds were never diverted to Libya.

Duhaime was charged with fraud in November.

SNC-Lavalin has taken a number of steps to improve its governance and requirement that employees adopt ethical behaviour.

On Thursday, it disclosed the hiring of former Watergate investigator Michael Hershman as an independent compliance adviser to SNC's president. He will complement the work of former FBI director Louis Freeh's risk management company, which has been assessing the progress of the implementation of the company's ethics and compliance program.

The Canadian Press


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