Canada's SNC says Swiss police likely reviewing payments

Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:14pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (SNC.TO: Quote) said on Monday that Swiss police were likely reviewing payments made to two companies it had retained for projects in Libya between 2001 and 2011 as part of a broader investigation into a former SNC executive.

Canada's largest publicly traded engineering and construction company said it could not confirm media reports that a former SNC vice president, Riadh Ben Aissa, had been indicted on allegations that he had laundered money in connection with $139 million in payments by SNC.

Swiss public broadcaster RTS said that investigators were tracking funds that flowed from SNC to the Swiss bank accounts of Dinova International Inc and Duvel Securities Inc.

Prosecutors have also charged Geneva-based lawyer Roland Kaufmann with money laundering and corruption, and accused him of helping Ben Aissa set up the companies, which are registered in the British Virgin Islands, according to the report.

SNC, whose CEO resigned earlier this year in the fallout from a corporate misconduct scandal, confirmed that it retained Dinova and Duvel as commercial agents in connection with projects in Libya.

The Montreal-based company, which conducted an internal audit earlier this year into millions of dollars of payments that it could not track down, said its review did not focus on any specific payments to the two companies.

"Subsequent to the independent review, we learned that all or certain payments made to those companies were likely being reviewed by Swiss authorities in their investigation," SNC spokeswoman Leslie Quinton said in an email.

"We have provided information and documentation to the appropriate authorities and this includes the information we had on Duvel and Dinova."

SNC is unaware of any evidence that funds paid to the companies were misused, but reserves the right to recover any money that was misused, she said.   Continued...