SNC-Lavalin corruption case entangles Canadian PM Trudeau

Canada’s Ethics Commissioner will investigate claims that the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (pictured) pressured the country’s former attorney general (AG) to help engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution over foreign bribery and fraud charges.

Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) MPs had asked Commissioner Mario Dion to look into allegations, reported last week by newspaper The Globe and Mail citing unnamed sources, that the Prime Minister’s Office asked then AG Jody Wilson-Raybould to direct prosecutors to allow a "remediation deal", which would have let SNC-Lavalin avoid a trial in exchange for fines, cooperation and remedial action.

Yesterday Dion told NDP MPs that there was enough cause to open an inquiry into the actions of Trudeau, reports national broadcaster, CBC.

Trudeau insisted to reporters that he did not pressure the AG, and said he welcomed the probe.

"This is an issue that has been much talked about over the last few days and I think it’s important Canadians continue to have confidence in our system," Trudeau said, reported CBC.

SNC-Lavalin has been publicly campaigning to be allowed to take part in the Canada’s Remediation Agreement programme, which came into force in September 2018.

It faces charges laid in 2015 alleging that between 2001 and 2011 the company offered millions of dollars in bribes, and defrauded Libyan officials of millions more.

It wants to avoid a lengthy trial, but says it will defend itself against the charges.

The company argues that, since the scandal erupted in 2012, it has comprehensively overhauled itself, with complete changes at board and management levels, and a "world-class ethics & compliance framework".

Prosecutors refused to allow it to apply for a remediation deal in October last year.

Image: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Peru, April 2018 (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Peru/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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