On January 25,an RCMP affidavit unsealed by a Montreal court alleged Riadh Ben Aissa had paid tens of millions in bribes to Saadi Gaddafi for steering major contracts in Libya to Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, Canada’s biggest engineering and construction company.
Police said some of it had bought luxury yachts for the dictator’s son. The affidavit also implicated Mr. Ben Aissa and his controller Stéphane Roy in an alleged Canadian-led plot to smuggle Mr. Gaddafi to Mexico using false documents.
Riadh Ben Aissa, former vice-president of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin.
Mr. Ben Aissa and Mr. Roy left the company last February after auditors raised concerns about the payments. Mr. Ben Aissa was arrested in Switzerland on April 10. Three days later, the RCMP searched SNC-Lavalin’s Montreal headquarters.
The company said in a press release January 25 it was cooperating with the authorities “to get to the bottom of these issues as rapidly as possible. … Should the allegations relating to any of the individuals in the affidavit be proven, we plan to act swiftly and resolutely to address any damages that may have been caused to the company and its interests.”
In the 59-page affidavit, Cpl. Brenda Makad of the RCMP anti-corruption squad painted a portrait of massive corruption by Mr. Ben Aissa, alleging he used a complex trail of money transfers and offshore companies to siphon bribes to the dictator’s son.
But the brother said Mr. Ben Aissa had still not been charged by Swiss authorities, although they have held him in custody more than nine months. He said he had filed a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights against the Swiss prosecutor, Michael Lauber.
The complaint alleges that Mr. Ben Aissa was arrested in a “politically-motivated fashion” and was being held “in quasi inhumane conditions,” despite suffering post-traumatic stress as a result of his work in wartime Libya.
“Mr. Lauber has ignored and never investigated the fact that SNC-Lavalin itself, including all members of the Board of Trustees, had ordered the transfer of about $139-million dollars to Libyan commercial agents, known as being close friends and personal advisors to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for 11 years through two Geneva-based offshore companies which SNC-Lavalin had previously contracted,” reads a statement issued by the brother.
He said his brother was just an employee doing his job.
“Projects he accomplished in Libya helped the poor and saved lives. He was never involved in any political game and never leveled countries with bombs to create democracies. He just wanted to make a living and feed his family.”