Federal Department OK’s Work With SNC-Lavalin, Saying Alleged Misconduct Happened ’20 Years Ago’

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A federal department says it continues to work with SNC-Lavalin since criminal charges against the construction and engineering giant stem from allegations that took place two decades ago.

“The Government of Canada is committed to taking action against improper, unethical and illegal business practices and to holding companies to account for such misconduct,” said the Department of Public Works in a briefing note obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter and published on Aug. 17.

“The charges laid in September 2021 relate to alleged misconduct from 20 years ago.”

SNC-Lavalin, together with two of its former senior executives, was charged under the Criminal Code of Canada with offences including fraud against the government, forgery, and conspiracy to commit fraud, the RCMP announced on Sept.23 last year.

The engineering giant acknowledged the charges the same day, stating that the “offences that would have occurred from 1997 to 2004” were related to the Jacques Cartier Bridge Refurbishment project—a $128 million contract of which it was a 50 percent consortium partner.

The company said at the time that it received an invitation from the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP), Quebec’s crown prosecutor’s office, to negotiate a remediation agreement, widely known as a “deferred prosecution agreement.”

The deferred prosecution agreement was introduced under Canadian law by the Liberal government in September 2018, which allows charges of corporate crime to be dropped if the accused company agrees to fulfill certain undertakings demanded by the Crown in exchange.

“This is [the] first time a Canadian company has received an invitation to negotiate such an agreement,” SNC-Lavalin said in a press release on Sept. 23, 2021.

‘Get-Out-of-Jail Card’

On May 11, SNC-Lavalin announced that Quebec’s Superior Court approved the remediation agreement it has with DPCP, making it the first company in Canada to win an out-of-court settlement under new provisions of the Criminal Code.

The briefing note from the public works department said its employees considered the company a reliable partner.

“SNC-Lavalin provides various architecture and engineering services in support of the Department of Public Works’ real property projects,” the note said. “Contracts have been awarded.”

In December 2019, SNC-Lavalin plead guilty to fraud and was fined $280 million over bribes paid to win construction contracts in Libya. In June 2020, the firm was ordered by the Competition Bureau of Canada to pay $1.9 million for rigging bids on municipal infrastructure contracts in Quebec between the period of 2003 and 2012.

Conservative MP Dan Albas warned the Standing Committee on Finance in 2018 that DPA will only encourage bad corporate behaviour, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

“A deferred prosecution agreement basically allows you to not have any consequences in a court of law,” Albas said.

“Big corporations can get a get-out-of-jail card free.”

Isaac Teo

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Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.



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