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

RELATED:

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

SNC-Lavalin will stand trial on criminal corruption charges, Quebec judge rules

VIDEO: The Conservatives accused the Liberals on Tuesday of “rewriting the rules” over reported illegal campaign contributions, stating they “sat on the information.”

SNC-Lavalin will stand trial on criminal corruption charges linked to its alleged business activities in Libya under former dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

A Quebec judge ruled Wednesday morning that prosecutors have enough evidence to sustain a trial of the Montreal engineering giant, which stands accused of fraud and bribing Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011 to get contracts.

The evidence is under a publication ban.

READ MORE: SNC-Lavalin executives look at breaking up company ahead of potential criminal conviction

If convicted, the company could face being barred for up to 10 years from bidding on government contracts. MORE

Names of SNC employees, executives behind thousands of dollars in illegal Liberal Party donations revealed

Next election it seems you have a choice between the Green Party, The NDP, the Conservatives, or SNC-Lavalin.

Former attorney general of Quebec denies involvement in scheme that broke Canadian election law


An investigation by the Commissioner of Canada Elections revealed that between 2004 and 2009, 18 former SNC-Lavalin employees, directors and some spouses contributed nearly $110,000 to the federal Liberals. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

A confidential document sent to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2016, and obtained by CBC/Radio-Canada, reveals how top officials at the embattled engineering firm SNC-Lavalin were named in a scheme to illegally influence Canadian elections.

The list of names, compiled in 2016 by federal investigators probing political party donations and leaked to CBC’s The Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada’s Enquête, raises new questions about an agreement by the Commissioner of Canada Elections not to prosecute the company.

The federal Liberals were sent the list in a letter marked “confidential” from the Commissioner of Canada Elections — the independent office tasked with investigating election law violations — on Aug. 5, 2016. But for nearly three years, neither Elections Canada nor the Liberal Party shared that information publicly.

The investigation reveals that over a period of more than five years between 2004 and 2009, 18 former SNC-Lavalin employees, directors and some spouses contributed nearly $110,000 to the federal Liberals, including to four party leadership campaigns and four riding associations in Quebec.

According to the letter, the investigation found that SNC-Lavalin reimbursed all of those individual donations — a practice forbidden under the Canada Elections Act. MORE

 

Wilson-Raybould slams feds for ‘incremental’ progress on Indigenous rights recognition

 

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Former justice minister Jody Wilson-RaybouldOTTAWA — Former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is slamming the federal government she was once a part of for making only “incremental” progress on the Indigenous justice file and their promise to “decolonialize” Canadian laws and policies.

“My fear and disappointment is that despite sounding the alarm, providing the advice, pushing and challenging, sharing perspectives of lived Indigenous experience… the federal government has fallen back once again into a pattern of trying to ‘manage the problem’ with Indigenous peoples and make incremental shifts rather than transforming the status quo,” Wilson-Raybould said during a keynote address on Wednesday at the First Nations Provincial Justice Forum in Vancouver. They were invited by the B.C.-based First Nations Justice Council.

She appeared alongside fellow newly-Independent MP Jane Philpott to deliver a joint address called: “From denial to recognition: the challenges of Indigenous justice in Canada.”

“Since I spoke to the leadership of British Columbia this past November, there have been a few developments, things have changed a bit,” Wilson-Raybould said early in her remarks, to laughter. “Perhaps not fully unexpected but certainly an eventful time,” she continued, appearing to reference the months-long controversy surrounding her allegations that she faced a sustained effort from senior government officials to attempt to pressure her to interfere in a criminal case against the Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould framed her comments as her reflections and insights from her nearly three years as Canada’s first-ever Indigenous justice minister and attorney general, presented with the aim of informing these Indigenous leaders’ ongoing efforts to change the current justice system.

She said that she had “no illusion” about the reality of the system she was taking the helm of, but said that over the course of her time in cabinet she fought to challenge the way things had been done. MORE

What the SNC board may have known about the firm’s dealings in Libya — like the office safe with $10M cash

 

Corruption? Justin Trudeau has always stated that he was trying to protect the jobs of SNC-Lavalin employees and that obtaining a deferred prosecution agreement for the company was essential. Now it seems that there may as well have been a very different motive–protecting the 1% from liability. The NDP has called for a public enquiry to get to the truth. Your MP needs to know how you feel.

High-paid former directors could face tough questions if SNC-Lavalin bribery trial goes ahead


The SNC-Lavalin board in 2011. From top left: Ian A. Bourne, David Goldman, Patricia A. Hammick, Pierre H. Lessard, Edythe A. Parkinson-Marcoux and Lorna R. Marsden. From bottom left: Claude Mongeau, Gwyn Morgan, Michael D. Parker, Hugh D. Segal, Pierre Duhaime, Lawrence N. Stevenson. (SNC-Lavalin/CBC)

There’s no question that millions of dollars in bribes were paid to the Gadhafi regime in Libya to win lucrative contracts for SNC-Lavalin.

The former head of the company’s global construction arm admitted to bribery, corruption and money laundering in 2014. He pleaded guilty in a Swiss court.

But the Quebec-based engineering firm has long insisted that Riadh Ben Aïssa was acting alone and in secret.

Ben Aïssa has a very different story to tell. He is back in Canada after having spent more than two years in prison in Switzerland. He has turned on his former executives and board of directors and has been co-operating with police and prosecutors.

SNC-Lavalin has been lobbying hard behind the scenes to secure what’s called a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to avoid going to trial. The company, as well as its supporters in government, argue thousands of jobs are at risk if it is convicted and barred from bidding on federal contracts.

But a CBC News investigation reveals why 12 top directors who left the company years ago also have plenty at stake if the case goes to trial. SNC-Lavalin’s former board is an influential who’s who of the corporate elite that includes former senators, banking executives and members of the Order of Canada. They will all likely face close — and very public — scrutiny if called to testify about whether they knew of any corruption happening on their watch.

The board at the time comprised luminaries of the corporate world, including Sen. Hugh Segal, former senator and Liberal Party executive Lorna Marsden, four members of the Order of Canada, and heavyweights from the banking, energy and railways sectors.

  MORE

The hidden key to the SNC-Lavalin scandal


Left: Muammar Gaddafi in Addis Abeba on February 2, 2009, photo by Jesse B. on Wikimedia Commons. Right: File photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by Alex Tétreault

SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian corporate giant with an established history of corruption, is charged with bribing the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal regime over many years, in exchange for lucrative contracts.

This case is the most serious and important prosecution of corporate corruption in modern Canadian history, and we’re arguing about jobs and whether former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould is hard to get along with.

It is not only appropriate, but essential that this matter go to trial in an open and public hearing, so that Canadians can see how the world’s bloodiest tyrants are cossetted, indulged, and enabled.

Perhaps the most depressing spectacle of the entire affair is watching Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a man who clearly aspires to greatness, debase himself and this nation, by begging, pushing, imploring Canada’s attorney general to let this company off the hook.

Then effectively firing her when she wouldn’t comply, and allowing her credibility to be undermined.

Just what kind of story does he think SNC-Lavalin’s caught up in, Anne of Green Gables? MORE

RELATED:

Judge mulls whether SNC-Lavalin to face trial as preliminary inquiry ends
Terence Corcoran: Nothing about the SNC-Lavalin scandal will ever be clear until we open its black box

 

SNC-Lavalin warned of U.S. move, slashing workforce if no plea deal, documents show

SNC-Lavalin warned federal prosecutors in the fall of 2018 about a possible plan to split the company in two, move its offices to the United States and eliminate its Canadian workforce. File photo by The Canadian Press

SNC-Lavalin warned federal prosecutors last fall about a possible plan to split the company in two, move its offices to the United States and eliminate its Canadian workforce if it didn’t get a deal to avoid criminal prosecution, newly obtained documents show.

The documents, part of a PowerPoint presentation obtained by The Canadian Press, describe something called “Plan B” — what Montreal-based SNC might have to do if it can’t convince the government to grant a so-called remediation agreement to avoid criminal proceedings in a fraud and corruption case related to projects in Libya.

Under that plan, SNC would move its Montreal headquarters and corporate offices in Ontario and Quebec to the U.S. within a year, cutting its workforce to just 3,500 from 8,717, before eventually winding up its Canadian operations.

The company’s board and senior management were prepared to quickly bundle parts of the business that had no role in the Libya case into a new entity, putting the “trio of possibly convicted entities” into another organization that would operate “on a reduced business level in Canada or heading into eventual wind-up,” they read.

The presentation, which was delivered by mail to The Canadian Press anonymously and without a return address, also suggests the end of seven-figure donations and sponsorships for various community causes, hundreds of millions more in lost tax revenues, and the loss of spending on research positions at universities. MORE

Monopoly-Friendly Canada ‘Does Not Treat Competition Policy Seriously’

John Pecman on why it’s time to beef up the Competition Bureau he led.

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Former Competition Bureau commissioner John Pecman notes a federal election is looming: ‘What better way of targeting the middle class or consumers than saying there’s going to be a review of the Competition Act, given the growing concern about corporate concentration?’

Canadians like to believe they live in one of the most sophisticated free-market economies in the world. Don’t tell that to John Pecman. Until May of last year, Pecman was commissioner of the Competition Bureau, the agency responsible for enforcing laws against anti-competitive practices in the Canadian marketplace.

After he stepped down in September 2018, he published an article in the Canadian Competition Law Review that called for reforms to give the bureau more power to check corporate concentration, including added independence by separating it from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

In a phone interview with The Tyee last week, Pecman elaborated, saying that federal laws governing corporate competition reflect Canada’s outdated view of itself as primarily a resource exporter and otherwise unable to compete with the big U.S. economy next door.

This led to laws favouring corporate consolidation in the name of “efficiency” over promoting competition or the interests of consumers.

…When it comes to not just studying market concentration but moving to break it up, says Pecman, Canada is “so far behind other western economies on this front. The fact that the country does not treat competition policy seriously is just a great disappointment to someone who has spent his entire life working in this area.” MORE

When all else fails, blame women for the SNC-Lavalin scandal…

When all else fails, blame women for the SNC-Lavalin scandal…

In a recent op-edOttawa Citizen columnist Andrew Cohen blames the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin (SNC-L) affair on two women: Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. According to Cohen, their impulsiveness, disloyalty, and short-sightedness “have put the achievements of the Trudeau government at real risk.”

By tarnishing the Liberal brand, these women have ruined everything.

While searching in earnest for scapegoats, Cohen forgot to mention the real villains in this soap opera.

SNC-L has never really warmed up to the “sunny ways” approach. The company has been debarred for 10 years by the World Bank, forbidden to bid on global projects as a result of high-level corruption in Bangladesh in 2009-2010.

Moreover, SNC-L faces charges of fraud and corruption in connection with nearly $48 million in payments made to Libyan government officials between 2001-2011. This does not include the $1.95 million spent on booze, nude dancers, porn stars and sex workers to spoil Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saadi, when he was invited to Canada in 2008 by SNC-L.  MORE

Companies like SNC-Lavalin must be monitored for shady donations across Canada, B.C. watchdog says

VANCOUVER—As another scandal plays out in Ottawa, government watchdog groups are calling for wider scrutiny of SNC-Lavalin’s activities in jurisdictions like British Columbia, where the company donated to the ruling political party at the same time it was being awarded large public infrastructure contracts.

However, the watchdog groups also argue that the evidence and allegations of corruption against the Quebec engineering firm demonstrate why all corporate donations need stronger rules and regular audits.


Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission, which concluded in 2014, found that many companies, including SNC-Lavalin, regularly bribed politicians to get government contracts.  (ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“It’s essentially a form of legalized bribery,” said Duff Conacher, founder of Ottawa-based Democracy Watch, referring to lax rules allowing corporations that benefit from political decisions to donate to political parties.

For years, Democracy Watch has advocated campaign finance limits because of the risk that large donors can wield oversized influence on politicians who start to feel more beholden to the wealthy people, corporations and unions that fund their campaigns than to the wider electorate.

Though Quebec, British Columbia and the federal government have lowered donation limits and banned union and corporate donations, companies have found ways around those regulations. Conacher said the rules end up being a “charade” without regular audits. MORE