Canada: Former SNC-Lavalin Exec Guilty of Graft

A Canadian court found the former executive vice-president of an engineering company guilty of paying off foreign officials in Libya and laundering money. The case even ensnared Canada’s government.

640px-Siege social SNC Lavalin 12SNC-Lavalin (Jeangagnon CC BY 3.0)Sami Bebawi, who served as SNC-Lavalin’s head of international construction, was convicted on Sunday for fraud, corruption of foreign officials and laundering proceeds of crime, according to the Canadian Press.

Bebawi created a “business model” that involved kickbacks to help SNC-Lavalin secure deals in Libya starting in the late 1990s. Prosecutors presented evidence that the company transferred about US$86 million to shell companies used to pay off people, including Saadi Gaddafi, the son of former Libyan dictator Moamar Gaddafi.

In one case, the company is accused of buying the younger Gaddafi a $19 million yacht - that was put back on the market in September.

Bebawi declined to testify during his trial but denied all the charges, calling the payments compensation from the company’s previous president for his work in complicated deals.

The executive appears in a leaked database of property and residency data compiled by real estate professionals, obtained by the non-profit group C4ADS, and provided to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

He is shown in connection with a 1,864 square foot, 3 bedroom apartment at Delphine Tower, a high-rise tower that is part of the Marina Promenade in Dubai Marina, an affluent residential neighborhood. 

The Quebec-based engineering company  and two of its subsidiaries still face charges they paid nearly $36.5 million to public officials in Libya over a decade to help influence government decisions.

Bebawi’s trial, and the accusations surrounding it, stood in the center of a scandal involving Canada’s government.

The country’s former attorney general claimed she was told by people close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to settle the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin. 

Former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott were subsequently ejected from the Liberal caucus for making the allegations.

Trudeau was later found to have violated conflict of ethics rules by intervening in the case.

The court is expected to announce its sentencing decision on Thursday.