SNC-Lavalin says Ottawa not going far enough in changes to anti-corruption rules

SNC-Lavalin says the federal government’s softening of anti-corruption rules doesn’t go far enough and raises new legal questions.

MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin says the federal government’s softening of anti-corruption rules doesn’t go far enough and raises new legal questions.

The embattled engineering firm said Monday that Ottawa has addressed some issues by potentially reducing the penalties for companies that have been convicted of offences and are seeking government work.

But SNC-Lavalin spokesman Louis-Antoine Paquin said the changes still don’t give prosecutors the flexibility to settle with companies that face charges.

Under the new procurement rules announced Friday, companies are still barred from government contracts for 10 years if they have been convicted of bribery, money laundering or other offences in the past three years.

But that ban can be cut in half if the company co-operates with authorities and takes remedial action.

Suppliers will also no longer be automatically ineligible for government work because of the conduct of affiliates unless it can be demonstrated that the supplier had control over the convicted affiliate.

However, the government can now suspend a supplier for up to 18 months if it has been charged or admitted guilt to a listed offence.

SNC-Lavalin, which along with two of its subsidiaries face one count of fraud and one of corruption over its dealings in Libya, said that measure is troubling.

“This raises, among others, issues relating to the presumption of innocence,” Paquin said in an email.

The Montreal-based company has said it will plead not guilty to the charges but is willing to pay a fine for the alleged transgressions of former employees. The case will be back in court in October.

Canada’s business lobby has been urging Ottawa to make changes to procurement rules which it said were “out-of-step with Canada’s trading partners and affecting investment decisions.”

Public Works Canada said the new rules are fair, ensure due process and better align with international best practices.

Analyst Maxim Sytchev of Dundee Capital Markets says SNC-Lavalin isn’t “entirely out of the legal woods” even though the shorter debarment times and improved reinstatement opportunities are good for the company if it is convicted.

“It’s a slight positive but not a game changer yet,” he said.

Sytchev believes the likelihood of SNC-Lavalin being debarred in Canada is small, especially when it continues to be awarded multibillion-dollar contracts.

The Canadian Bar Association says some of the government’s changes are good but it added that the automatic debarment period of 10 years — even if the term can be reduced — raises questions about the rule of law and due process.

Spokesman Michael Osborne of the law firm Affleck Greene McMurtry said such a lengthy debarment period can amount to “corporate capital punishment.”

He said the changes reduce the disincentive for companies to co-operate.

“But the fundamental question that needs to be addressed is this another punishment that we are piling on to the punishment imposed by the criminal courts?”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read