Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reportedly denied that his staff interfered with a legal case involving corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin.
The engineering and construction company, based in Montreal, Quebec, was in February 2015 accused of paying millions of dollars’ worth of bribes to win contracts in Libya between 2001 and 2011, according to Canada’s The Globe and Mail.
In an official statement dated 19 February, 2015, SNC-Lavalin’s president and chief executive officer at the time, Robert G Card, said the charges stemmed from the “alleged activities of former employees”, adding that the company had “always been and [remained] willing to reach a reasonable and fair solution that promotes accountability, while permitting [it] to continue to do business”.
According to a 7 February, 2019 report by The Globe and Mail, Trudeau’s staff pressurised Canada’s former justice minister and attorney-general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to persuade prosecutors to settle the corruption charges out of court. Instead, SNC-Lavalin was reported to have sought a remediation agreement – a type of deal that requires organisations to “accept responsibility for the wrongdoing and pay a financial penalty, relinquish benefits gained from the wrongdoing, and put in place compliance measures”, according to The Globe and Mail's report.
Trudeau’s office told the Canadian publication that it “did not direct the attorney general to draw any conclusions on this matter”.
According to a separate Bloomberg report, Trudeau commented: “Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or by anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.”
SNC-Lavalin is counted among the most influential international engineering and construction companies in the Gulf. Its portfolio includes contracts such as Al Khafji Joint Operations, a joint Saudi Arabian-Kuwaiti firm comprising Aramco Gulf Operations Co and Kuwait Gulf Oil Co. The Canadian firm’s portfolio also includes major industrial schemes with Oman’s Project Development & Management International and Saudi Aramco.