SNC-Lavalin rejects trial by jury in Libyan bribery case

Canadian construction and engineering giant SNC-Lavalin will seek a trial by judge alone, and not by jury, in its corruption case related to past alleged bribery in Libya, reports national broadcaster CBC. 

The company was ordered to stand trial last May, accused of paying C$47.7m 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 organisations of $129.8m.

If found guilty, the company could be blacklisted from federal contracts for 10 years.

The company has said it intends to plead not guilty and fight the charges.

It is a landmark corruption case in Canada, which sparked a scandal for the Liberal government of prime minister Justin Trudeau this year when his office was accused of pressuring former attorney general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule federal prosecutors and negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with the company, which would have allowed the company to pay a fine rather than face a criminal trial.

Since multiple corruption allegations emerged from 2012, SNC-Lavalin has changed its board and instituted a comprehensive compliance framework, but the Libya case has been a millstone.

At the end of last year former chief executive Neil Bruce said it was being used "mercilessly" by its competitors, resulting in missed work totalling "probably in excess of C$5 billion".

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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