SNC-Lavalin, which owns Atkins in the UK, is to stand trial on charges of fraud and corruption, a judge in Canada has ruled.
A preliminary inquiry into the allegations has concluded that there is a strong enough case for it to go to trial. SNC-Lavalin denies all charges, which relate to alleged bribery in Libya up to 20 years ago.
“Given the threshold to be met by the prosecution at the stage of the preliminary inquiry, this outcome was expected,” said Neil Bruce, president and chief executive of SNC-Lavalin. “We are analysing the decision with our counsel and will decide how to best advance our defence to the charges and the serious legal arguments we intend to present to continue to vigorously defend ourselves to get the right outcome and be acquitted.”
“SNC-Lavalin is a completely transformed company,” he added. “These charges relate to alleged wrongdoings that took place seven to 20 years ago by certain former employees who left the company long ago. And we are pursuing those who committed the wrongdoings.”
Charges have been laid against SNC-Lavalin Group, SNC-Lavalin International, and SNC-Lavalin Construction, with each entity charged with one count of fraud and one count of corruption.
There has been an on-going political row in Canada over the case, centring on accusations that the prime minister’s office had pressed the attorney general to persuade prosecutors to drop the case in favour of a remediation agreement. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has denied the accusations. Remediation agreements enable firms to avoid trial by paying a fine or accepting some other form of sanction.
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