OTTAWA – New details have emerged about the SNC-Lavalin's relationship with the son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, including the company that allegedly hired prostitutes for him during a visit to Canada a decade ago.
The sordid tale, unveiled by the Quebec La Presse newspaper on Wednesday, comes to light when former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Ray testified whether it was unduly pressured last fall to help SNC-Lavalin avoid associated federal corruption charges to their business in Libya.
Receipts collected during an investigation by a former SNC-Lavalin executive show $ 30,000 in payments to Saadi Kadafi for sexual services in Canada in 2008, La Presse reported. The documentation can now be revealed publicly because prosecution of Stéphane Roy, former vice president of SNC-Lavalin, on charges of fraud and bribery was suspended last week due to delays in the courts.
In 2008, Gaddafi traveled to Montreal and Toronto to conduct business and improve his English, at the invitation of SNC-Lavalin. He helped the company protect billion in public procurement in Libya – thanks also to millions of bribes to Libyan officials, RCMP claimed – and visited Canada on three previous occasions. But he spent much of his time in other extracurricular activities, according to the La Presse report.
During his stay, SNC-Lavalin hired Garda World, a Montreal-based company, to provide security for the son of the dictator, and they hired four bodyguards as contractors. This focus on security "has degenerated," a company spokeswoman, Isabelle Panelli, told the newspaper.
The bodyguards handled Gaddafi's expenses and provided receipts to SNC-Lavalin, according to court testimony by an RCMP investigator. The transactions they wrote as "complimentary services" in their expense reports would cost between $ 600 and $ 7,500 each. About $ 10,000 in services went to a single escort service in Vancouver. Other payments went to a Montreal strip club and covered events at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, as box seats for a Spice Girls show.
The investigation showed that SNC-Lavalin was canceling the costs associated with construction projects in Libya, La Presse reported, with Gadhafi's total travel bill totaling almost $ 2 million.
Roy testified in court that the expenses associated with the trip were justified and that he had the receipts to prove it. Expenses were justified at the time, witnessed another former executive, Riadh Ben Aissa – who in the meantime pleaded guilty last year on charges that SNC-Lavalin executives cheated the McGill University Health Center at $ 22, 5 million. loading scheme.
Panelli told La Presse that Garda World tried to intervene and stop the practice, but then lost the contract with SNC-Lavalin. She told the newspaper that most of the employees who were around were no longer with the company.
Garda World told the National Post that it had no comment to offer beyond the La Presse report, and a SNC-Lavalin spokesman would just say: "We have no comment on this."
The company argued that its corporate culture is completely different now than it was a decade ago, and that its current senior executives were not involved in alleged corruption.
SNC-Lavalin remains the largest engineering company in Canada, employing thousands of people across the country and particularly in Quebec. There, the provincial prime minister and many of the commentators argued that there would be good economic reasons for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ask a prosecutor general to help the company avoid criminal prosecutions.
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