Montreal

SNC-Lavalin opts for judge-only trial in corruption case

Lawyers representing SNC-Lavalin have opted for trial by judge alone in a corruption case that has loomed over the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant.

Quebec engineering and construction giant accused of bribing Libyan officials

SNC-Lavalin was caught in a political controversy after failing to secure a deferred prosecution agreement, a kind of plea deal that would have seen the firm agree to pay a fine rather than face prosecution. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Lawyers representing SNC-Lavalin have opted for trial by judge alone in a corruption case that has loomed over the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant.

The company was ordered to stand trial last May. It is accused of paying $47.7 million in bribes to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

SNC-Lavalin, its construction division and a subsidiary also face one charge each of fraud and corruption for allegedly defrauding various Libyan organizations of $129.8 million.

Being found guilty could have grave consequences for SNC-Lavalin because it could find itself blacklisted and shut out of lucrative federal contracts for a period of 10 years as well as undermining its international business opportunities.

Shortly after learning that it would be ordered to stand trial, SNC-Lavalin said it intended to vigorously challenge the charges and plead not guilty.

It has argued that internal changes have been made and that the alleged actions were committed up to 20 years ago by former employees who have long departed the company.

Political controversy

SNC-Lavalin has been caught in a political controversy for months after failing to secure a deferred prosecution agreement, a kind of plea deal that would have seen the firm agree to pay a fine rather than face prosecution.

Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould alleged that top government officials pressured her to overrule federal prosecutors in the Libya case and negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with the company.

The case will return to court Sept. 20.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, SNC-Lavalin shares were up 20 cents at $26.40 in Friday afternoon trading.

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