SNC-Lavalin sues its former CEO over bribery scandal

Canadian contracting giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is suing its former chief executive Pierre Duhaime over a bribery scandal surrounding the project to build a C$1.3bn hospital in Montreal.

The lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court on Friday, 1 March demands that Duhaime and other defendants repay C$22.5m in bribes, and pay C$17.5m in punitive damages and compensation for reputation damage, reports the Canadian Press news agency. 

Duhaime, who left the company in March 2012 amid a cascading corruption scandal – initially involving alleged bribery in Libya – was arrested in November that year on 15 charges including bribing public officials in connection with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) contract, won by a group led by SNC-Lavalin.

On 1 February this year Duhaime admitted to one of those charges in a plea deal that saw him avoid prison. The other charges were dropped. 

What he admitted to was not taking action on information about possible bribery; he denied knowing about or authorising bribes, which prosecutors alleged amounted to C$22.5m.

In November last year an MUHC hospital executive pleaded guilty to accepting bribes amounting to C$10m for helping ensure the contract to build the hospital went to a consortium led by SNC-Lavalin.  

SNC-Lavalin’s lawsuit against Duhaime says he acted "in bad faith" when he signed a retirement agreement without disclosing his "criminal wrongdoing" in the MUHC contract, reports Canadian Press.

That retirement agreement saw the company pay C$1.17m for Duhaime’s legal costs during his trial, and pay more than C$1m as part of a larger retirement package.

SNC-Lavalin wants that money back, as well.

"Had SNC-Lavalin known of such criminal wrongdoing, it would have terminated the defendant Duhaime for cause and would never have entered into the March 25 agreement," the company said.

Separately, SNC-Lavalin is campaigning to avoid a trial on charges of bribery in Libya.

The company says it has undergone root-and-branch reform and wants its case handled under Canada’s new Remediation Agreement regime, which came into effect in September last year.

Image courtesy of Jeangagnon/CC BY-SA 3.0

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  1. Take action wrong and not take action also wrong!!

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