Monday, October 26, 2020

Former SNC-Lavalin executive convicted for fraud forfeits $4 million assets


A former SNC-Lavalin executive who was convicted on corruption and fraud charges last year has had over $4 million in assets seized by a Quebec Superior Court judge, including a million-dollar property in Florida.

Sami Bebawi, who was sentenced in January to eight years and six months in prison for his crimes, has also been fined $24.6 million in lieu of additional crime proceeds, according to a RCMP release.

Bebawi faces an additional 10-year prison sentence if he fails to pay the fine within the next six months.

Other assets seized include three other real estate properties worth over $540,000 combined, along with roughly $670,000 in Canadian bank accounts. A nearly $300,000 additional real estate investment was also forfeited, along with $970,000 in lieu of the seizure of an additional property.

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Bebawi was found guilty in December of fraud, corruption of foreign officials and laundering proceeds of crimes. The case focused on several major infrastructure projects and dealings with Saadi Gadhafi, a son of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Bebawi is appealing his conviction. His lawyers argued during his trial last year that the millions of dollars he received as a result of those dealings were compensation for completing complicated contracts, authorized by the former president of the company, Jacques Lamarre.

Prosecutors presented evidence that SNC-Lavalin transferred about $113 million to shell companies used to pay off people, including Saadi Gadhafi, who helped the company secure deals in Libya.

What remained in the accounts of those firms after the kickbacks were paid was then split between Bebawi and Riadh Ben Aissa, a former colleague, with Bebawi allegedly receiving about $26 million.

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Bebawi was the last former SNC-Lavalin employee charged in the aftermath of an RCMP investigation into the company’s dealings in Libya to have his case resolved.

Just three days after Bebawi’s conviction, the Montreal company pleaded guilty to fraud in a settlement with the Canadian government, agreeing to a $280-million fine and a three-year probation from bidding on projects.

The Libya case ended up ensnaring the Liberal government in scandal last year over allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inner circle had pressured then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to reach a settlement with the company.

Trudeau was later found to have violated conflict of ethics rules by intervening in the case, while Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott were ejected from the Liberal caucus over the allegations. Wilson-Raybould now sits as an independent MP.

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