SNC Lavalin agrees to pay Quebec $30 million over Montreal bridge bribes

09 May 2022 2 min. read
More news on

SNC Lavalin, a global engineering and consulting firm, has agreed to pay nearly $30 million over three years to settle charges of criminal bribery over its work on the Jacques Cartier Bridge Refurbishment project two decades ago.

The charges, which were laid in September 2021, concern events that occurred between 1997 and 2004 in connection with SNC-Lavalin’s work on the bridge, which connects Montreal and Longeueil. On the same day charges were laid on SNC-Lavalin and SNC-Lavalin International, the RCMP arrested Normand Morin and Kamal Francis, two former SNC-Lavalin executives.

The charges are part of a longstanding RCMP investigation into bribes paid on the $128-million bridge refurbishment contract. Michel Fournier, the former head of Federal Bridge Corp., was in 2017 convicted of fraud for accepting more than $2.3 million in bribes from SNC in relation to the Jacque Cartier bridge job.

As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, SNC will pay a $29.56-million fine and agree to third-party monitoring in order to avoid a trial. Quebec’s office of criminal prosecutions said SNC’s co-operation during police searches and voluntary provision of information contributed to the decision to negotiate an agreement. As part of the deal, which awaits approval from the Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday, SNC will be allowed to continue conducting business with Quebec, Canadian, and foreign governments.

SNC Lavalin agrees to pay Quebec $30 million over Montreal bridge bribes

Morin and Francis, who face an array of fraud and forgery charges, cannot benefit from a deferred prosecution agreement because they do not apply to individuals.

SNC unsuccessfully lobbied for a deferred prosecution agreement two years ago in a separate case related to bribes the company paid to the Libyan government between 2001 and 2011 to secure contracts. The Prime Minister’s Office allegedly placed pressure on then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer a settlement. Wilson-Raybould’s subsequent resignation resulted in a significant scandal for the federal Liberal government.

SNC eventually struck a deal with federal prosecutors in late 2019, pleading guilty to a fraud charge and agreeing to a $280-million fine and a three-year probation order with oversight by an independent monitor.

The Montreal-headquartered firm last week announced its Q1 2022 results, which included lower-than-expected earnings. Net profit from continuing operations for the quarter ended March 30 was $24.8 million or 14 cents a share, down 63% from the same period a year ago. SNC’s revenue grew 3.8% to $1.9 billion.

Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes for the core SNCL services business was $126.7 million; the profit margin of 7.6% was below management’s 8%-10% annual target.