Greed drove former SNC exec’s alleged fraud, corruption scheme: Crown

Greed drove former SNC exec’s alleged fraud, corruption scheme: Crown

MONTREAL — Summing up six weeks of testimony at the trial of a former SNC-Lavalin executive accused of fraud and corruption, a prosecutor told jurors Monday that greed lies at the root of the accusations.

Sami Bebawi’s fate will soon be in the hands of the jury after federal prosecutors made their closing arguments to jurors. The defence is scheduled to plead its case Tuesday.

Bebawi, 73, is standing trial on five charges including fraud, corruption of foreign officials and laundering proceeds of crime. The initial indictment indicated eight charges, but Bebawi is being tried on just five of them. He has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution is trying to prove SNC-Lavalin transferred about $113 million to shell companies used to pay people who helped the company collect money and secure contracts in Libya, beginning in the late 1990s.

What remained in the accounts after the kickbacks were paid was split between Bebawi and Riadh Ben Aissa, a former colleague, the Crown alleges, with Bebawi pocketing $26 million.

The alleged kickbacks involved massive contracts won by the Montreal engineering giant for work in Libya during the late Moammar Gadhafi’s dictatorship.

The trial centred on interactions with Gadhafi’s son, Saadi, who was able to facilitate business dealings in that country. Among the kickbacks to the younger Gadhafi was a U.S.-made luxury yacht — the Hokulani — purchased for $25 million after the company landed a major contract.

“In its simplest expression, this case is about getting lucrative contracts for SNC-Lavalin, regardless of the methods,” prosecutor Anne-Marie Manoukian told jurors. She described the case as one of international fraud and corruption, with Bebawi transplanting to Libya a business model that had been used in neighbouring Algeria.

“The undercurrent to this case is greed,” Manoukian said. “Shortly after his arrival in 1999, the accused imposed a new business model whereby the ends justified the means.” Manoukian noted the Crown’s star witness, former SNC executive Ben Aissa, testified he was told as much.

“Mr. Ben Aissa was told: ‘Do what you have to do, pay who you have to pay, and the rest is ours to share. Success will be handsomely rewarded,’ ” the prosecutor recounted.

After choosing not to call any witnesses, Bebawi’s lawyers will state their case in final arguments. Manoukian suggested the defence might try to argue the alleged acts occurred without Bebawi’s knowledge.

“But why did he get so many emails about the stratagem?” she asked, adding that witnesses testified Bebawi was kept up to speed on dealings.

Ben Aissa, the accused’s former subordinate at SNC-Lavalin who turned Crown witness while incarcerated in Switzerland, said he was told by Bebawi that losses on contracts in Libya were unacceptable, and he was to change their fortunes by any means.

The trial also heard of a bribe offer to Ben Aissa to change his testimony to match Bebawi’s in an alleged effort to help Bebawi escape charges here.

“I suggest it demonstrates the actions of someone who wants — at all costs — to obtain a favourable declaration that conforms to his own,” Manoukian said. “Ask yourself if you don’t see someone who at all costs wants to avoid a criminal prosecution …. I submit it’s the same motivation as in the beginning in 1999 — the ends justify the means.”

Manoukian asked jurors to take stock of the evidence presented, both Ben Aissa’s testimony and the documentation and testimony that she said backs it up.

“Look at the entirety of the evidence and ask yourself if it’s reasonable that the accused didn’t know about the transactions (with the shell company) and the deposits to his account and the accounts under his control,” Manoukian said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

Most Read