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Division of SNC-Lavalin pleads guilty to fraud charges

Earlier this year, former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Prime Minister Trudeau of pressuring her to prevent SNC-Lavalin’s case from going to trial.

A division of Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin has pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 in relation to the firm’s activities in Libya.

SNC-Lavalin Construction Inc. will pay a fine of $280 million over five years, and will be under a probation order for three years, during which the company will be subject to external monitoring.

“This is a game-changer for the Company and finally allows us to put this issue behind us. I apologize for this past misconduct and welcome the opportunity to move forward,” SNC-Lavalin CEO Ian Edwards said in a statement.

On Wednesday morning, the Toronto Stock Exchange suspended all trading of SNC-Lavalin shares as the firm returned to court.

SNC-Lavalin and two subsidiaries were accused of spending $48 million to bribe government officials in Libya from 2001 to 2011.

The guilty plea comes just three days after a Quebec court found former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Sami Bebawi guilty of corruption, laundering proceeds of a crime and fraud – all related to the company’s Libyan activities.

Bebawi was found to have pocketed $26 million while bribing the son of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in return for lucrative contracts in the country.

“The company adopted an unusual, unlawful and dishonest practice by artificially inflating the prices of contracts, paying bribes and misappropriating money for personal gain,” said Crown prosecutor Anne-Marie Manoukian at Bebawi’s trial.

The company is also accused of spending $2 million on parties and prostitutes for Gaddafi’s son.

In total, SNC-Lavalin funnelled $118 million into a shell company used for illicit dealings in Libya.

Earlier this year, former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of pressuring her to prevent SNC-Lavalin’s case from going to trial. Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion later ruled that Trudeau broke the law by using his office to undermine Wilson-Raybould’s authority.

“The authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer,” wrote Commissioner Dion.

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