On February 19, 2015, the RCMP announced that it has charged
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and two related entities (collectively,
"SNC-Lavalin") with one count of foreign corruption
contrary to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act
and one count of fraud under the Criminal Code. These
charges follow a long-running international investigation into the
activities of SNC-Lavalin and certain of its former employees in
Libya, Canada, Bangladesh and elsewhere as well as foreign and
domestic corruption charges in prior years against certain former
executives of SNC-Lavalin.
According to the RCMP's press release, the latest round of
corruption charges (the first against SNC-Lavalin itself) relate to
alleged illegal activities over a 10 year period from August 16,
2001 to September 20, 2011, respecting $47.6 million in alleged
bribes to foreign public officials and an alleged fraud of $130
million in relation to projects in Libya.
In addition to the potential financial penalties and
reputational damage to SNC-Lavalin, these charges pose a serious
risk that SNC-Lavalin will face debarment in Canada and abroad.
Certain SNC-Lavalin entities are already the subject of a debarment
order by the World Bank. SNC-Lavalin's Chief Executive Officer
stated in October 2014 that any such debarment orders in Canada
could result in the sale or closure of the company.
These charges follow recent public statements, as well as
concrete steps taken by the government, to strengthen Canada's
commitment to combating foreign corrupt practices, including
amending the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act
("the Act") to, among other things, broaden its
jurisdictional reach and increase the maximum term of imprisonment
for individuals convicted under the Act and obtaining the first
conviction and sentencing of an individual for bribery of a foreign
public official. These developments highlight the critical
importance of robust anti-corruption compliance regimes for
Canadian companies conducting business outside of Canada.
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Canadian engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin has been charged by the RCMP with paying bribes of nearly $48 million to Libyan government officials and defrauding Libya of nearly $130 million.
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