Canadian police allege ex-SNC executive paid bribes to Gaddafi son

Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:16pm EST
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(Reuters) - A son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi allegedly received 120 million euros ($162 million) in bribes for giving major contracts in Libya to SNC-Lavalin Inc, Canada's biggest engineering and construction company, a police document said on Friday.

According to an affidavit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used to obtain a search warrant at SNC's head office last April, the bribes were paid, in a roundabout way, to Saadi Gaddafi by Riadh Ben Aissa, a vice-president at Montreal-based SNC at the time.

"It is alleged that this money (120 million euros) were paid him as a reward for influencing the awarding of major contracts to SNC-Lavalin Intl," RCMP officer Brenda Makad said in the affidavit. The document did not make clear when the alleged bribes occurred.

The 59-page RCMP statement, redacted in part, was released by the courts at the request of three Canadian newspapers, the Globe and Mail, the National Post and La Presse.

In an allegation based on information from Swiss anti-corruption investigators, Makad said SNC-Lavalin paid the money to offshore companies belonging to Ben Aissa, and the money was then transferred to offshore companies controlled by Saadi Gaddafi. Some money was used to buy yachts for the son of the slain dictator, the RCMP statement alleged.

SNC, which has said that any wrongdoing was the work of a small number of former employees, said it was seeing the affidavit for the first time and had not been aware of some of the information it contained.

"We cannot determine the veracity of certain allegations in the affidavit," SNC said in a statement. It said it was eager for the situation to be resolved and would do everything it could to help the authorities rapidly get to the bottom of those issues.

In the affidavit, Makad said an RCMP investigation had shown there was a genuine friendship between Saadi Gaddafi and Ben Aissa "and that over several years SNC-Lavalin, through Ben Aissa, offered bribes to the son of the dictator to secure the awarding of engineering/construction contracts in Libya."

Ben Aissa left SNC in February last year and is now in jail in Switzerland after being arrested on suspicion of money laundering. The Globe said he had not been charged with a crime but was in precautionary detention.   Continued...

The head office of SNC Lavalin seen in downtown Montreal March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi