Wednesday, November 28, 2012

From the Good Folks Who Bilked You the Canada LIne, will build Evergreen and, Lord knows, maybe the Broadway/UBC Ditch

November 28, 2012

Pierre Duhaime, former SNC-Lavalin CEO, arrested on fraud charges


Pierre Duhaime arrested Wednesday morning at his home and has been charged with three counts – conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud and making use of forged documents

Former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. president and chief executive officer Pierre Duhaime has been arrested on fraud-related charges.

Mr. Duhaime was arrested Wednesday morning at his home and has been charged with three counts – conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud and making use of forged documents – said Anne-Frédérick Laurence, spokeswoman for the Quebec government's Unité permanente anticorruption.

He is being held in jail and will be released on bail, she said.

She said she cannot provide more details.

A second former SNC senior executive – Riyad Ben Aissa – also faces the same three charges, said Ms. Laurence.

Mr. Ben Aissa is currently being held in a jail cell in Switzerland.

Mr. Duhaime left the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant last March in the midst of a financial scandal related to improper payments through its international operations.

Investigations in that matter continue in Canada and Switzerland.

The provincial anti-corruption squad is investigating aspects of a billion-dollar contract SNC and its partners struck with the McGill University Hospital Centre to build a new hospital.

Arthur Porter, the former head of the McGill University Hospital Centre, resigned last year and has not responded to the allegations.

SNC and several other engineering firms were also targeted recently in a series of raids at their offices in the Montreal suburb of Laval.

Raids were also conducted at city hall as well as the two homes of Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who recently stepped down amid allegations of widespread corruption and collusion between the construction industry and government officials in Laval, Montreal and other municipalities.

Mr. Duhaime left SNC amid allegations he overruled the company's chief financial officer and approved $56-million in payments to unknown agents to secure contracts for the company. The money has gone missing and another company executive, Riyad Ben Aissa who ran SNC's Libyan operations, is in jail in Switzerland under investigation for fraud.

At the time of his departure, SNC praised Mr. Duhaime's contributions to the company and portrayed his removal as a "retirement." The company also paid him nearly $5-million in severance.

Mr. Duhaime, who is from Quebec City, became CEO of SNC in 2009. Tunisian-born Mr. Ben Aissa ran SNC's activities in Libya as well as the company's construction operations worldwide. That year, according to the board, Mr. Ben Aissa approved a $30-million contract to an agent to help win a contract.
The company alleged Monday that the agent's arrangements were not properly documented, had nothing to do with the project and the identity of the agent could not be verified.

SNC said on Wednesday it has no knowledge "of the specifics of any charges that may have been laid against [Mr. Duhaime]" and cannot comment further.

"As we have stated repeatedly, SNC-Lavalin has and will continue to co-operate fully with all authorities who request our assistance," the company said in a news release.

"We have voluntarily turned over information that we have to local and other authorities for them to take any actions that they may consider appropriate.

"We are unequivocal that no unethical behaviour or illegal acts must ever be tolerated. We believe that anyone found to have committed any wrongdoing in connection should be brought to justice."

In 2010, the McGill University Health Centre project was given a gold award for project financing by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. The award cited the "innovative financing put in place by Groupe immobilier santé McGill, composed of SNC-Lavalin and Innisfree Ltd., as part of the overall project mandate."

British infrastructure investor Innisfree is SNC's main partner in the consortium financing and building the hospital.

Once finished, the health complex is to be leased to the Quebec government for 30 years.

"We're deeply troubled by the statements contained in the warrant alleging the fraud against MUHC, especially as we administer public funds for health purposes," Richard Fahey, spokesman for McGill University Health Centre, said in an interview.

The MUHC has been fully collaborating with investigators ever since they raided its offices for documents related to the case, he said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Canada Line & Evergreen Line Builders Nabbed

Swiss probe $139M SNC-Lavalin laundering case

Company’s ex-VP Riadh Ben Aissa faces charges over Libya contracts
By John Nicol and Dave Seglins, CBC News

Posted: Nov 25, 2012 11:20 AM ET

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2012 11:55 AM ET

Prosecutors in Switzerland have formally indicted former SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa on allegations he laundered vast sums of money tied to at least $139 million in mysterious payments by the company, according to Swiss public broadcaster RTS.
CBC News has also learned RCMP officials are working with Swiss police and have travelled to Switzerland to assist in the joint investigation.
Citing multiple confidential sources in Switzerland and North Africa, RTS investigative reporter Yves Steiner told CBC News that Swiss authorities have tracked money flowing from the Canadian engineering conglomerate to Swiss bank accounts registered to companies in the British Virgin Islands. Some of the funds then went directly into Swiss bank accounts controlled by Ben Aïssa, Steiner said his sources told him, and Swiss officials are working with the RCMP to get to the bottom of the mystery.
"Swiss investigators are interested in this network of companies and accounts, transfers that were allegedly authorized by Riadh Ben Aissa to obtain contracts in Tunisia and, especially, Libya," RTS reported Sunday.
The RCMP has not commented on these latest reports but has previously refused to answer questions, citing the ongoing investigation.
Ben Aissa was arrested in Switzerland last spring and remains in jail on suspicion of money laundering and corruption of public officials related to his business dealings in North Africa.
Prosecutors have also charged Geneva-based lawyer Roland Kaufman with money laundering and corruption. According to RTS, authorities accuse him of helping Ben Aissa to set up two companies, Dinova and Duvel Securities, registered in the British Virgin Islands. The broadcaster reports investigators are probing millions of dollars in payments from SNC-Lavalin to those companies’ Swiss bank accounts dating back as early as 2001.
CBC News placed multiple calls to Dinova and Duvel Securites last week but was unable to reach either of the lone directors listed on the company’s registration records in the BVI.
Swiss authorities are still trying to sort out the exact movements of the $139 million, Steiner said, and have interviewed several SNC-Lavalin officials. CBC News has confirmed that some interviews were completed in April, and that Sami Bebawi, Ben Aïssa's predecessor as head of international construction projects, flew to Switzerland last week to talk to Swiss prosecutors.
"I have many, many sources who say, 'OK, there is a system of corruption, there is a system of money laundering — or could be used for this kind of thing at least — in fact based here in Geneva,'" Steiner told CBC News.

$139M more than double what SNC audit found

The RTS report that investigators are tracking $130 million Swiss francs ($139 million Cdn) only deepens the mystery around SNC-Lavalin payments to procure construction projects given the company’s own announcement in March that audits had discovered only $56 million in improper payments.
Neither Ben Aïssa's Canadian nor his Swiss lawyer would comment on these latest allegations. Reached Saturday, Canadian lawyer Michael Edelson did say, however, that Ben Aissa is not pleased with a recently launched civil suit by his brother against SNC. On Nov. 5, orthopedic trauma specialist Rafik Ben Aissa filed a $5-million lawsuit against SNC-Lavalin accusing the company of using his brother as a scapegoat and damaging his family’s name.
An RCMP officer watches over the lobby of SNC-Lavalin's Montreal headquarters during a police raid in April. An RCMP officer watches over the lobby of SNC-Lavalin's Montreal headquarters during a police raid in April.(Graham Hughes/CP)
"SNC-Lavalin knowingly allowed and condoned the use of millions of dollars to fund lobbyists in the Middle East to get lucrative contracts with major leaders of some countries, particularly in Libya," the suit claims. None of its allegations have been tested in court.
The company declined CBC’s request for an interview with its CEO and would not answer whether Riadh Ben Aissa could have singlehandedly approved and concealed the $139 million in payments.
“We continue to collaborate in all investigations with authorities as they are pursued,” SNC-Lavalin spokesperson Leslie Quinton said in an emailed statement.
“Because these investigations are ongoing and we continue to cooperate, unfortunately there is nothing further that we are able to add at this time, except to reiterate that we hope that if anyone is found to have committed any wrongdoing, they are brought to justice,” she said.
The ultimate purpose of the $139 million in SNC-Lavalin payments remains unclear.
However, an SNC insider — the same person who anonymously accused Ben Aissa of wrongdoing in a December 2011 "poison pen" letter to company directors and executives — told CBC News "more has to be done" within the company.
"There is no way that kind of money is moved without approvals" from people still within the company, the source said. "Employees who detested the rule of Ben Aissa are sympathetic to Ben Aïssa's [brother's] lawsuit that claims that the management knew and encouraged his acts.
"This is not a story of foreign criminals, but a sad story of Canadian greed."
With files from CBC's Brigitte Noel and Jeremy McDonald

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

De-Spare Me, puleeeze (Rhymes with sleeze)

B.C.’s Conflict Commissioner Paul Fraser says he sees no problem investigating an allegation against Premier Christy Clark, even though his son is a longtime friend of Clark’s and works as a senior official within her government. “I don’t perceive a problem in making a decision in this case that will have nothing to do with my son’s career,” Fraser said Thursday in response to a question on the issue by The Vancouver Sun.

 You cannot make up stuff like this.

But you can read the whole story here.

t won't make you feel any better about the comic sham we used to call a democracy here in beautiful British Columbia, but you can read it.