SNC-Lavalin political contributions violated the Elections Act

SNC-Lavalin has entered into a compliance agreement after Canada's commissioner identified $118,000 in donations that violated federal law

OTTAWA — SNC-Lavalin made nearly $118,000 in payments to federal parties that violated the Canada Elections Act over a seven-year period, the elections commissioner said Thursday.

The contributions, made between March 9, 2004, and May 1, 2011, were given to the Liberals and Conservatives as well as contestants in the 2006 Liberal leadership race, the commissioner said.

According to a compliance agreement entered into by SNC-Lavalin, former senior executives with the Montreal-based company solicited employees to make political contributions and in some cases, those employees were reimbursed with refunds for false personal expenses, fictitious bonuses or other benefits totalling $117,803.49.

The independent federal agency said SNC-Lavalin accepts responsibility for those actions and acknowledges the contributions were made on its behalf, though does not constitute an admission of guilt under criminal law.

The commissioner said the federal parties have repaid the contributions to the Receiver General of Canada. SNC-Lavalin has agreed to follow the Canada Elections Act and give written notice to its executives and board of directors of the scope of its compliance agreement.

In a statement, SNC-Lavalin CEO Neil Bruce said the compliance agreement demonstrates the company’s progress on improving its corporate ethics.

“I am pleased that this agreement was reached,” Bruce said. “It once again shows our desire and commitment to resolve past issues.”

Earlier this year, SNC-Lavalin announced it was making restitutions to municipalities and other public bodies in Quebec for obtaining contracts through questionable means. That came after the provincial government launched a program last year aimed at recovering money paid in connection with public contracts obtained as a result of fraud or fraudulent tactics.

At the time, the company said it wasn’t admitting culpability and only following a process set up by the province. By participating in the program, companies cannot be sued civilly over the contracts but are not immune from criminal charges.

SNC-Lavalin has been trying to rebuild its reputation since it uncovered problems in 2012 that led to the removal of a former CEO and other senior officials.

The company faces criminal fraud and corruption charges over allegations of illegal activity in Libya. It has said it will plead not guilty to those charges.

The Autorite des marches financiers, Quebec’s securities regulator, certified SNC-Lavalin to do business with the province’s public sector organizations after the company strengthened its ethics and compliance measures.

In December 2015, SNC-Lavalin signed an administrative agreement under a federal government program that allows companies facing charges to continue to secure contracts from Ottawa.

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