SNC-Lavalin executive claims he was scapegoat in Gadhafi bribery scheme

A former SNC-Lavalin vice president at the centre of a bribery scandal in Libya claims he has been made a scapegoat and that his company’s former leadership was well aware of cash offered freely for contracts.

Former CEOs, a former chief financial officer, and the ex-chairman of SNC-Lavalin International were among those with knowledge of bribes and gifts to Saadi Gadhafi, son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, alleges Riadh Ben Aïssa in court pleadings obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Ben Aïssa is currently defending himself against one of a number of lawsuits brought by SNC, a Canadian engineering firm which itself is facing criminal charges of foreign corruption.

"SNC is only trying to use Ben Aïssa as a scapegoat by presenting himas solely responsible for acts that SNC was fully aware of, accepted and encouraged," the court documents read.

Riadh Ben Aïssa

"After having behaved as such for many years, SNC now tries to escape unscathed by blaming all its acts on Ben Aïssa."

Ben Aïssa claims that former company brass, including former CEOs Jacques Lamarre and Pierre Duhaime, former chief financial officer Gilles Laramée, ex-chairman of SNC-Lavalin International Michael Novak and former executive VP Sami Bebawi, were aware of bribes and gifts to Saadi Gadhafi, son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

None of the claims have been proven in court.

Ben Aïssa’s statement includes a list of the alleged bribes and kickbacks, including a CAN$38-million yacht for Saadi Gadhafi that he says was approved by Laramée and Lamarre.

SNC is also alleged to have covered the cost of Saadi Gadhafi’s visit to Canada in 2008 to the tune of CAN$2m.

Ben Aïssa is named in two lawsuits launched by SNC, one seeking CAN$2m and another seeking $127m from Ben Aïssa and his predecessor for claims of embezzlement.

In the $2m lawsuit, SNC alleges that Ben Aïssa and two others defrauded the company and plotted to move Saadi Gadhafi and his family to Mexico. Ben Aïssa denies this allegation.

Ben Aïssa is back in Canada after serving 2.5 years in a Swiss jail, having admitted to corruption and money laundering tied to SNC projects in Libya.

He is awaiting trial alongside former CEO Pierre Duhaime on charges of fraud for $22.5m in alleged bribes paid to win SNC the contract to build a Montreal superhospital.

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