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International bribery watchdog says its “concerned” about SNC-Lavalin political interference allegations

"The OECD Working Group on Bribery is concerned by recent allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin"

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has expressed that it is “concerned” about allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office might have interfered in the prosecution of Montreal engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

“The OECD Working Group on Bribery is concerned by recent allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin that are subject to proceedings in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights,” reads the statement.

The OECD is an international forum composed of 36 member nations that seeks to promote economic and social well being worldwide.

The March 11th statement announced that the “OECD will follow Canadian proceedings addressing allegations of political interference in foreign bribery prosecution”.

The prosecution in question involves the company SNC-Lavalin, which is being tried for bribing Libyan officials to obtain government contracts in the country.

Since February, the Prime Minister and members of the Prime Minister’s Office, including former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, Chief of Staff Katie Telford and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick have been accused of politically interfering in the case.

During testimony before the justice committee, former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said that she “experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere” in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution. The Prime Minister has since denied these claims.

Currently there are two known ongoing investigations into the allegations, one conducted by the Liberal-majority Justice Committee and another by the Federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commission.

The OECD’s working group on bribery is responsible for ensuring that governments abide by standards set by the Anti-Bribery Convention. Canada is a signing member of the convention which requires member countries to implement anti-bribery legislation and ensure that they get enforced without political interference.

“As a Party to the Anti-Bribery Convention, Canada is fully committed to complying with the Convention, which requires prosecutorial independence in foreign bribery cases pursuant to Article 5. In addition, political factors such as a country’s national economic interest and the identity of the alleged perpetrators must not influence foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions,” reads the statement.

The OECD also states that they have sent a letter to Canadian authorities about their concerns on the matter.


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