Federal public prosecutor asks court to strike SNC-Lavalin plea for deal

Share

The company, based in Canada's Quebec province, was charged with corruption and fraud in connection with payments of almost 36 million US dollars in bribes to public officials in the former Libyan government of late leader Muammar Gaddafi and defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated 98 million dollars between 2001 and 2011.

CTV News has asked Jody Wilson-Raybould for comment on the story and her office said she will not be commenting today.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is denying that he or anyone in his office pressured Canada's former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to abandon the prosecution of a case against SNC-Lavalin.

The move comes as The Canadian Press reports that Wilson-Raybould was involved in extensive, internal government discussions last fall about whether SNC-Lavalin should be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated repeatedly that no one in his office had directed the Minister of Justice in the matter of SNC-Lavalin.

The Globe reported that PMO aides leaned heavily on Wilson-Raybould to persuade the federal director of public prosecutions to negotiate a "remediation agreement" with SNC-Lavalin as a way of holding it to account for wrongdoing by some of its executives, rather than pursuing a criminal prosecution that could financially hobble the company.

Parliament was seized this week by an allegation that the Prime Minister's Office tried to pressure its justice minister into interfering in how federal prosecutors treat the corruption case of SNC-Lavalin, a massive Montreal-based engineering and construction firm.

"Mr. Speaker, at no point has the current minister of justice or the former minister of justice been directed or pressured by the prime minister or the Prime Minister's Office to make any decision on this or any other matter", Virani said.

More news: Dems turn focus to tax returns - and Trump's loom largest
More news: Filipino parents urged to immunise children amid measles outbreak
More news: Trump's more measured on border security talks

The attorney general is thus allowed to direct prosecutors - but crucially, the direction must appear in a government publication called the Canada Gazette, which is viewable by the public.

On Friday morning, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that if the prime minister has "nothing to hide", he should have no problem with the committee hearings.

Is Justin Trudeau's PMO corrupt? Taking the questions in Trudeau's absence was Canada's current Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Quebec MP David Lametti.

"All this cries out for some serious investigation", he said in a telephone interview from Burnaby, B.C., where he's campaigning for a seat in the House of Commons in a February 25 byelection.

He said requesting that the officials appear at committee is his party's next step because it can happen immediately, though they have also begun exploring other "legal avenues". "Tell us what happened, be transparent, invite the ethics commissioner to investigate and tell us that this is not the case or, if it is the case, then there's a serious reckoning that needs to happen". It would also mean the criminal prosecution against the company would not continue.

SNC has previously been charged with bribery and corruption over its efforts to secure government business in Libya.

That left her successor at Justice, Lametti, to fend off opposition charges on Thursday of political interference in the justice system. A spokesperson for the PMO said in a statement that Wilson-Raybould raised the SNC-Lavalin case with Butts, and he told her to speak with Michael Wernick, the clerk of the privy council.

The fact that such directives must be done publicly would seem to constrain a justice minister from doing anything overtly political.

Share