Tripoli: March 26
SNC-Lavelin CEO Pierre Duhaime has resigned over untraced agency payments of $56 million. However the internal . . .[restrict]company enquiry that led to his departure today concluded that none of the money had gone to Libya.
The cash was paid in two tranches via Qaddafi-family friend and North African fixer, SNC vice-president Riadh Ben Aïssa, who was fired in February along with another executive, Stephan Roy. SNC’s Libyan joint venture “The Corps of Engineers of Libya.” may have been boosted by its recruitment of Edis Zagorac, husband of Canadian ambassador in Tripoli. The ambassador,Sandra McCardell, this week relinquished her post here, though completely cleared by the foreign ministry in Ottawa of any wrong doing or conflict of interest.
SNC’s internal enquiry decided that it was likely that the money may have been paid to an undisclosed agent in connection with Tunisian contracts. Between 2010 and 2011, the company paid out £$22.5 million of an agreed $30 million to this agent.
A further $33.5 million of payments, for which the company was unable to account, had been made in the fourth quarter of last year. With one exception, SNC did not know the identity of these agents. The exception was an agent that it did not name, who last year submitted an $8.25 million invoice in relation to a North African project, which SNC refused to pay.
Connections have been made between $33.5 million payment and the project to rescue Saadi Qaddafi and smuggle him to Niger. This task was undertaken by a team led by an Australian resident in Canada, Gary Peters, who when he went public with the news, claimed to be a former member of his country’s special forces. Other SNC employees have been implicated in further scheme to allow Saadi Qaddafi and other members of the Qaddafi family to flee to Mexico. Former SNC hire Cyndy Vanie is currently in custody in Mexico City.
SNC said today that its investigation had been hampered by the refusal of Aïssa and Roy, was well as “third parties involved” to co-operate with it. In addition “former employees”, which may mean others in addition to Aïssa and Roy, had used non-SNC company emails with passwords that the enquiry team was unable to access.
CEO Duhaime’s position appears to have become untenable when the enquiry discovered that his chief financial officer, Gilles Laramée had known of some of the payments, objected strongly but been over-ruled by his boss.
Moreover the enquiry decided that Mr. Duhaime knew the payments to the agents were not properly disclosed internally or to company auditors and therefore had breached company conduct and ethics codes.
Talking to analysts today, SNC chairman Gwyn Morgan was insistent even though its had not been established where the money went, none of the payments had gone to Libya. He also thanked Duhaime for his 23 years work at SNC and wished him well.