Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Comments of SNC-Lavalin CEO Weren't Attempt to Intimidate Authorities, Says V-P

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Comments of SNC-Lavalin CEO Weren't Attempt to Intimidate Authorities, Says V-P

Article excerpt

Comments not meant as intimidation: SNC-Lavalin

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MONTREAL - SNC-Lavalin says its CEO wasn't attempting to intimidate authorities by suggesting that the engineering giant could be forced to close or sell its operations if it faced criminal charges.

"It is clear that the intention was never to blackmail," said Eric Ryan, vice-president marketing of strategy and external relations in an interview Wednesday.

"As managers of a public company, you have to always examine all alternatives, all scenarios, because we need to do what is best for our shareholders."

The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday that Robert Card told its editorial board that any move to lay criminal charges against the Montreal-based company in connection with a bribery scandal could force its closure or sale.

Ryan said SNC-Lavalin always prepares for any possible outcomes and Card merely discussed hypothetical possibilities any public company would have to consider if it faced serious sanctions that could impede its ability to win contracts and compete in Canada.

Card said charges would severely hurt SNC's business while a sale to a foreign owner would jeopardize the 5,000 jobs at its global headquarters.

SNC-Lavalin's (TSX:SNC) reputation has been tarnished by the alleged crimes of former employees in Libya, Algeria, Bangladesh and in relation to a $1.3 billion Montreal hospital contract.

Several ex-officials, including former CEO Pierre Duhaime and construction vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa, face fraud charges in Canada. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Ryan said the sale or closure of the company is not a scenario that SNC is exploring. He added that the company continues to collaborate with federal, provincial and other authorities that are investigating past events and still hopes to have any fines that may be imposed wrapped up by year-end, even though the election of a new Quebec government may delay that timeline. …

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