Newspaper article The Canadian Press

SNC-Lavalin Says It Welcomes Ottawa's Review of Integrity Framework

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

SNC-Lavalin Says It Welcomes Ottawa's Review of Integrity Framework

Article excerpt

SNC-Lavalin happy with Ottawa's procurement review

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MONTREAL - The president and CEO of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin has welcomed Ottawa's decision to review the protocol used to award public contracts in light of the company's current legal troubles.

The RCMP charged SNC (TSX:SNC) and two of its subsidiaries with one count of fraud and one of corruption last February over its dealings in Libya.

Billions worth of public and private contracts are at risk if the engineering firm is found guilty, CEO Robert Card said Thursday after the company's annual meeting.

One is the contract recently awarded to a consortium, which includes SNC, to construct a new bridge over the St. Lawrence River linking Montreal and its populous south shore.

"We applaud the government's review of the public integrity framework but we would note that only deals with project work for the government of Canada," Card said.

Currently, firms convicted of certain criminal offences are prohibited from receiving federal contracts for 10 years.

Card said SNC will plead not guilty to the charges, although it is willing to pay a fine to account for the alleged transgressions of former employees.

"We do not endorse the actions that these people took," he said. "We want to achieve a solution which recognizes appropriate accountabilities but leaves us and our employees in a position to be protected and carry on."

The Crown alleges that between 2001 and 2011, the company gave more than $47 million in bribes to one or more members of the Libyan government and also allegedly committed fraud of more than $129 million in the country.

Card said the Crown hasn't finished presenting its evidence and that company lawyers believe the court process could last up to five years.

"We don't intend for that to go on that long," he noted. "We hope to get this done in advance. …

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