The secretive role of SNC-Lavalin in the Site C dam

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Site C dam costs likely over $10 billion, completion date in doubt. Photo by Bob Fedderly.

The embattled company is reaping millions in public money from no-bid contracts for British Columbia’s third hydro dam on the Peace River — a project that is already billions of dollars over budget

SNC-Lavalin has received approximately $120 million in direct award Site C dam contracts, obscuring the embattled engineering firm’s role in building the largest publicly funded infrastructure project in B.C.’s history.

For one contract, SNC-Lavalin provided BC Hydro with a “shadow estimate” — number-crunching to confirm BC Hydro’s figure — for its forecasted $8.335 billion price tag for the dam, The Narwhal found after reviewing Site C documents.

The estimate proved to be wildly wrong, missing the mark by $2 billion.

But that hasn’t stopped SNC-Lavalin — which has been banned from World Bank infrastructure contracts for 10 years following allegations of bribery schemes in Bangladesh — from reaping years of no-bid work on the Site C dam for engineering design services.

Direct award contracts allow BC Hydro and other public bodies to decide which companies or consultants get contracts, instead of going through a more transparent and competitive tender process.

On Wednesday, a Quebec judge ruled that SNC-Lavalin must stand trial on charges of fraud and corruption for allegedly paying $47.7 million in bribes to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011. The RCMP has also charged SNC-Lavalin, its construction division and a subsidiary with one charge each of fraud and corruption for allegedly swindling almost $130 million from various Libyan organizations.

SNC-Lavalin also grossly underestimated cost of Muskrat Falls dam

SNC-Lavalin also played a major role in the cost estimate for the hugely over-budget Muskrat Falls dam on the lower Churchill River in Labrador, now the subject of a two-year inquiry to determine why the project proceeded. MORE

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Nine things B.C. can learn from the Muskrat Falls dam inquiry

Why Has Trudeau Risked So Much for SNC-Lavalin?

Four related mysteries fuel flames of an ever more ruinous scandal.

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Cartoon by Greg Perry.

Justin Trudeau has hit the panic button.

Unicorn sightings during Question Period are down to zero.

After weeks of being drubbed by the opposition over LavScam, the prime minister is now threatening a lawsuit against Andrew Scheer, his chief detractor in this misbegotten affair. What’s next? Suing Andrew Coyne?

They say drowning people will clutch at anything. But a threatened lawsuit against Scheer? The Michelin Tire Man is more menacing than the leader of the Official Opposition. This guy edits his tweets when he gets a paper airplane thrown his way.

And didn’t this PM promise a new, open way of doing politics? Dumping MPs who won’t bend to his will, effectively firing a cabinet minister who didn’t take the hint on a big file, shutting down the justice committee investigation of this travesty, and now waving a libel action around does not exactly conjure up sunny ways.

Having already claimed two star female federal cabinet ministers, the clerk of the privy council, and the PM’s principal secretary, it appears the next victim of LavScam could be Justin Trudeau himself. And all because one way or another, the PM seems determined to spare SNC-Lavalin a criminal conviction for its alleged bribery and corruption in Libya. Why?

MORE

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Andrew Coyne: Trudeau’s lawsuit threat all part of a cunning play for sympathy

For the gambit to pay off, the Trudeau team had to exceed previous expectations of ineptitude. Never let it be said that they were not down to the challenge

Five Facts to Help You Assess the SNC-Lavalin Affair

Did Trudeau and his people do wrong? Some points to consider.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The spinmeisters are out. Let’s go over what we know. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

One thing we learned in the wake of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony is that Canadians should quit feeling smug about the hyper-partisan, fact-free state of politics in the U.S.

The reaction, from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s immediate and unsupported call for Justin Trudeau’s resignation to Liberal attacks on Wilson-Raybould’s ability to withstand the pressure of her former job as attorney general — when, in fact, her ability to withstand pressure seems one of the few certainties at this point — was marked mostly by partisan rhetoric. Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault went full Trump, calling the justice committee’s investigation a “witch hunt.”

Ignore the tidal wave of spin and misinformation. Here are five things to consider as you assess the rights and wrongs of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

First, it was legitimate for the prime minister, cabinet members and political staff to try to persuade Wilson-Raybould to step in and reverse the decision that SNC-Lavalin should face bribery and corruption charges over its activities in Libya. MORE

Unreasonable delay: Former SNC-Lavalin VP Stéphane Roy avoids trial

The judge decries “the culture of complacency” that contributed to delays in the case.

Proceedings against former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Stéphane Roy were suspended on Tuesday because it has taken too long to bring him to trial.

Roy was charged in 2014 with fraud, bribing a foreign official and violating United Nations sanctions against Libya in connection with SNC-Lavalin’s operations in that country.

The third charge was later dropped.

Roy’s lawyers argued that the delay — it has been around 60 months since Roy was initially charged, and his trial was not scheduled to begin until late spring — violated his right to a speedy trial.

Judge Patricia Compagnone agreed, ruling that delay was unreasonable and ordering a stay of proceedings. MORE

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Case thrown out against former SNC-Lavalin exec
What would a 10-year ban on federal contracts actually mean for SNC-Lavalin?