SNC-Lavalin settles shareholder class actions for $110 million after Libya bribery scandal

Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Group has settled two class action lawsuits worth a total of $110m brought by shareholders angry over losses after a bribery scandal in Libya six years ago.

The company said it will pay $88m toward the settlement of the cases in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The rest will come from its insurance, the lead lawyer of the claim, Michael Robb of Siskinds LLP, told The Canadian Press.

The agreement is subject to court approval.

The settlement is less than the $1.25bn initially claimed by investors who bought SNC-Lavalin shares before they plunged in 2012 after the company announced an investigation into millions in undocumented payments.

In 2015 Canadian police laid corruption charges against the company after a three-year investigation into its business dealings in Libya. Three former company executives had already been charged.

Police alleged that between 2001 and 2011 SNC-Lavalin offered around CAN$47.7m in bribes to the regime of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi for work in the country.

The company pleaded not guilty to the charges and the case is set to be heard in the autumn of this year.

The proceeds of the settlement will be distributed to investors from anywhere in the world who can prove they purchased SNC-Lavalin shares between November 2009 and February 2012.

The multi-faceted scandal led to wholesale boardroom changes at SNC-Lavalin, and the company said it has since initiated a series of significant changes and enhancements to reinforce its ethics and compliance procedures.

"The class-action lawsuit settlement is another step in resolving our legacy issues and de-risking the future of SNC-Lavalin," the Montreal-based firm said in a news release.

Industry analysts called the settlement a positive outcome for the company.

Yuri Lynk of Canaccord Genuity told Canadian Press that the settlement "manageable" for SNC-Lavalin because it had $647m of cash on hand at the end of March.

Image: Industry analysts called the settlement a positive outcome for the Montreal-headquartered company (Wikimedia Commons)

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