Canada's national police force raided the Montreal offices of engineer SNC-Lavalin on April 13, seeking information about missing funds allegedly used by former executives to procure work in Libya.
The raid underscores troubles in the firm's overseas projects. The chief executive resigned following the departure of two other senior executives earlier. The firm also said on April 2 that the World Bank had temporarily suspended its unit in Bangladesh from bidding on a $2-billion bridge project there while a bank probe of corruption allegations continues. The allegations are noted in a "confidential" bank report, but the firm said the lender's action does not affect the activities of other units.
SNC-Lavalin Vice President Leslie Quinton said on April 13 that the firm is cooperating with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police probe and that the police warrant "relates to … certain individuals who … are no longer employed by the company." But she declined further comment because the investigation is currently ongoing. A police spokesman also did not comment.
The search follows Pierre Duhaime's March 26 decision to step down as CEO and retire from the firm in June. Those actions come in the wake of an independent review of $56 million in missing payments to agents. The report said Duhaime approved the payments without approval of SNC-Lavalin's chief financial officer. Published reports say Duhaime is set to receive a severance package worth about $4.9 million. SNC-Lavalin ranks at No. 9 on ENR's list of the Top 150 Global Design Firms.
The CEO's departure was preceded by the exit of an executive vice president who oversaw firm work in Libya and a vice president who has been linked to a Canadian woman now jailed in Mexico for allegedly trying to smuggle into that country a son of former dictator Muammar Gadhafi. The missing funds were not related to Libyan operations, the review noted.