Former CEO of AltaLink Parent Company Arrested

RETA SNC Lavalin CEO photoThe Canadian and international corruption probe into SNC-Lavalin widens, as Quebec’s anti-corruption squad has just arrested former SNC CEO Pierre Duhaime, charging him and Riadh Ben Aissa, former SNC-Lavalin VP, with fraud in connection with construction contracts for a Montreal superhospital (CBC News). (SNC-Lavalin is AltaLink’s Quebec-based parent company that is building AltaLink’s high voltage power lines in Alberta.)

RETA UPAC logoAccording to the Quebec anti-corruption police unit, Duhaime faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and use of false documents in relation to SNC-Lavalin securing the contract to build the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.

CBC also reports a “Swiss probe is examining $139 million in payments to a Swiss bank account tied to (SNC’s) mega-construction contracts in Libya. That’s in addition to $56 million in ‘improper payments’ identified by the company last spring, when Duhaime was forced to resign.”

Riadh Ben Aissa was arrested in April 2012 on charges of money laundering and corruption, and is currently in jail in Switzerland. Swiss investigators have questioned 6 high-level SNC-Lavalin executives and hope to question 3 more. CBC reports, “Ben Aissa oversaw global construction projects and forged close ties to the Gadhafi regime in Libya, winning the company billions in contracts to build an airport, a prison, and a major water distribution project.”

Media reports indicate that the widening corruption probe into SNC-Lavalin’s work in Canada and internationally, and the growing list of charges and arrests at the most senior levels, is reaching proportions not seen before in Canada. The Financial Post reports SNC-Lavalin “is trying to fend off reputational ruin”. Anthony Scilipoti, VP at Toronto’s Veritas Investment Research said, “This is not contained. It’s not isolated.” Scilipoti said he has never seen “anything of this magnitude”.

The Montreal Gazette reports, “The arrest of Duhaime has elevated the level of alleged corruption into a much higher echelon.” Marguerite Mendell, Concordia University economist, said, “It doesn’t get any uglier than this…It’s almost as if we’re in an age of unravelling after a too-long period of laissez-faire and greed that has spilled over, not just into making lots of money and a speculative Wild West kind of financial environment, but to too much power to people in high places.”

The Globe and Mail suggests it is difficult to believe SNC-Lavalin’s contention that, “all of its troubles stem from a rogue executive who might have had one or two lowly associates under his hold…Rogue executive? Isolated event? SNC’s theory has as many holes in it as a spaghetti strainer.”

Many institutions that currently have, or are contemplating, contracts with SNC-Lavalin are questioning whether they should be doing business with the company in light of the seriously escalating corruption probe, charges and arrests. For example, questions were recently asked in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly about the province’s Muskrat Falls project engineering contract with SNC-Lavalin (VOCM).

Perhaps in response to the arrest of Duhaime, SNC’s share value has dropped substantially during the past week.

For more on SNC-Lavalin see this link. See Making Money by Making Friends for information on the relationship between AltaLink/SNC-Lavalin and the Alberta P.C. Party.

~ by RETA on December 4, 2012.

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