SNC-Lavalin sues its former CEO over bribery scandal
Canadian contracting giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is suing its former chief executive Pierre Duhaime over a bribery scandal surrounding the project to build a C$1.3bn hospital in Montreal.
The lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court on Friday, 1 March demands that Duhaime and other defendants repay C$22.5m in bribes, and pay C$17.5m in punitive damages and compensation for reputation damage, reports the Canadian Press news agency.
Duhaime, who left the company in March 2012 amid a cascading corruption scandal – initially involving alleged bribery in Libya – was arrested in November that year on 15 charges including bribing public officials in connection with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) contract, won by a group led by SNC-Lavalin.
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On 1 February this year Duhaime admitted to one of those charges in a plea deal that saw him avoid prison. The other charges were dropped.
What he admitted to was not taking action on information about possible bribery; he denied knowing about or authorising bribes, which prosecutors alleged amounted to C$22.5m.
In November last year an MUHC hospital executive pleaded guilty to accepting bribes amounting to C$10m for helping ensure the contract to build the hospital went to a consortium led by SNC-Lavalin.
SNC-Lavalin’s lawsuit against Duhaime says he acted “in bad faith” when he signed a retirement agreement without disclosing his “criminal wrongdoing” in the MUHC contract, reports Canadian Press.
That retirement agreement saw the company pay C$1.17m for Duhaime’s legal costs during his trial, and pay more than C$1m as part of a larger retirement package.
SNC-Lavalin wants that money back, as well.
“Had SNC-Lavalin known of such criminal wrongdoing, it would have terminated the defendant Duhaime for cause and would never have entered into the March 25 agreement,” the company said.
Separately, SNC-Lavalin is campaigning to avoid a trial on charges of bribery in Libya.
The company says it has undergone root-and-branch reform and wants its case handled under Canada’s new Remediation Agreement regime, which came into effect in September last year.
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