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Trudeau denies PMO interference in SNC-Lavalin prosecution

Justin Trudeau is denying he or anyone in his office “directed” the former attorney general to interfere in the ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Justin Trudeau is denying he or anyone in his office “directed” the former attorney general to interfere in the ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

A Thursday Globe and Mail report claims that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office attempted to pressure former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a corruption case against the Montreal-based engineering and construction company.

The company is facing corruption and fraud charges for questionable payments to the Libyan government, then under the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi.

According to public lobbyist registry, SNC-Lavalin lobbyists met with senior federal government officials, including in the PMO, on more than 50 occasions to discuss “justice” and “law enforcement.” It is believed the company sought the government’s help in attempting to avoid going to trial over the charges by negotiating a remediation agreement. The agreement would see SNC-Lavalin pay a fine for its conduct and implement internal changes to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Late Friday afternoon, the federal director of public prosecutions asked the court to toss out SNC-Lavalin’s request for a remediation agreement, meaning the case is likely to proceed to the public trial the company sought to avoid.

Wilson-Raybould has been tight-lipped on the report, saying she cannot publicly comment on the claims because, as attorney general, she represented the Government of Canada.

“As the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, I am bound by solicitor-client privilege in this matter,” she told reporters Friday.

In January, Wilson-Raybould was demoted from attorney general to Minister of Veterans Affairs during a cabinet shuffle. The original report on the event suggests this was a punishment for her refusal to acquiesce to the government’s demands.

Soon after the allegations came to light, Trudeau denied the claims, calling the original report “false.”

“The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false. Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me, or by anyone in my office, to take a decision in this matter,” he said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has called for an emergency meeting on the matter and an open investigation into the accusations.

RCMP officials have said that they are aware of the allegations but will not further comment.

When questioned whether the Conservatives would ask the RCMP to investigate the potential political interference, Scheer said “Everything is on the table.”

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