Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin is acknowledging that one of two former senior executives had business dealings with a Canadian woman now in jail in Mexico on charges that she tried to smuggle Moammar Gadhafi's son into that country.
The company said in a Feb. 9 announcement that Executive Vice President Riadh Ben Aïssa and Vice President-Controller Stéphane Roy were effectively no longer with the company. No reasons were given, other than a statement that “questions regarding the conduct of SNC-Lavalin employees have recently been the focus of public attention.”
Roy has been linked with Cynthia Vanier, the woman at the center of the alleged smuggling plot. CBC News has reported he hired her in July 2011 to conduct business research in Libya. He then traveled to Mexico last November for a planned meeting with Vanier, but that she was arrested the day before he arrived.
Corporate communications Vice President Leslie Quinton has confirmed that Roy hired Vanier to conduct a fact-finding mission on the feasibility of the company resuming operations in Libya and that she was paid for her services.
Roy advised the company that Vanier had invited him to Mexico to discuss potential water treatment projects in Libya, but that he was met by someone else who was arrested during the meeting. He explained to the arresting authorities the purpose of his visit.
“We understand that there was no charge placed against him nor, to our knowledge, is he under investigation now.”
Neither Canadian nor Mexican authorities have requested SNC-Lavalin's cooperation regarding anything related to Vanier’s situation and “to our knowledge,” no current or former employees have been contacted by any authorities, says Quinton.
SNC Lavalin had been involved in airport, water supply, environmental and other infrastructure projects in Libya before it had to evacuate about 4,500 foreign national employees in March 2011 amid rising violence.