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Canada raids firm tied to Kadhafi's Libya

14 april 2012, 14:27
0
©AFP
©AFP
Police on Friday raided the Montreal headquarters of an engineering firm that had dealings in Moamer Kadhafi's Libya and was loosely linked to a failed plot to smuggle the ex-dictator's son into Mexico, AFP reports.

The Canadian company is cooperating in the investigation, the engineering firm SNC-Lavalin said in a statement after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police executed a search warrant.

"The warrant relates to an investigation of certain individuals who are not or are no longer employed by the company," it added.

RCMP spokesman Sergeant Marc Menard confirmed an "ongoing investigation," but would not disclose any details.

An AFP correspondent at the scene, meanwhile, said all access to the company's building at Rene Levesque Boulevard West in downtown Montreal, which also houses a US consulate, was blocked.

SNC-Lavalin last month fired its chief executive, Pierre Duhaime, after 23 years with the company, amid accusations he allowed $56 million in payments to foreign agents for undocumented work.

An independent review traced two payments in December 2009 and July 2011 to Riadh Ben Aissa, executive vice-president of the firm's construction arm, who was fired in February along with vice president in charge of finances Stephane Roy.

SNC-Lavalin had said it would ask police to investigate after its internal review found Aissa had sought approval to hire the agents to "secure work" for two unspecified projects, and amounts of $33.5 million and $22.5 million were "charged to contracts that didn't exist."

"The CEO's authorization of these payments did not comply with the (company's) agents policy and therefore was in breach of the code," the internal review concluded.

Furthermore, "the CEO knew that the agents were being hired... in unusual circumstances," it said.

Media reports previously linked Aissa and Roy to the arrest in Mexico of a Canadian woman accused in an elaborate plot to bring 38-year-old Saadi Kadhafi, the ex-dictator's son, into Mexico with false documents at the height of pro-democracy protests in Libya last year.

SNC-Lavalin, which oversaw billions of dollars worth of projects in Libya, including construction of a prison, had hired the alleged conspirator, Cynthia Vanier, for "a fact-finding mission" in Libya in early summer 2011.

Mexican authorities charged Vanier, a Dane, and two Mexicans on January 28 with attempted trafficking of undocumented people, organized crime and falsifying official documents.

SNC-Lavalin's stock fell almost five percent in afternoon trading in Toronto.

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