SNC-Lavalin filed a motion July 5 in Quebec accusing Ontario consultant Cynthia Vanier of trying to arrange the move of Saadi Gadhafi and his family out of Libya, using millions in company funds to bankroll the plot.
The company also claims former executive vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa hired Vanier in June 2011 as part of a clandestine plot, paying her in excess of $1.8 million.
SNC is seeking to recoup that money from Vanier and her company, Vanier Consulting. SNC is also seeking an additional $202,333 from Ben Aissa alone.
After spending 18 months in a Mexican jail, Canadian consultant Cynthia (Cyndy) Vanier is at home with her family, enjoying some long-awaited quiet time.
Vanier, 52, was arrested in southern Mexico in late 2011, accused of plotting to smuggle the son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi into the country. She was released on Friday after a tribunal of the Supreme Court of Mexico upheld her appeal of her arrest and detention, which was not a ruling on guilt or inocence.
Gary Peters, in Australia, says he did business with the Gaddafis because there was money to be made. He says the family pay “top dollar”. “You might have to wait for a bit to get your money but you always get paid.” He estimates the “very, very lucrative” business venture has netted him “a million plus, two million plus” over the past few years.
“The Fifth Estate” shows “Mission Improbable” April 5.
A son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi allegedly received 120 million euros ($162 million) in bribes for giving major contracts in Libya to SNC-Lavalin Inc, Canada’s biggest engineering and construction company, a police document said on Friday.
According to an affidavit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used to obtain a search warrant at SNC’s head office last April, the bribes were paid, in a roundabout way, to Saadi Gaddafi by Riadh Ben Aissa, a vice-president at Montreal-based SNC at the time.
The affidavit also shows that the RCMP suspects Mr. Roy, one of Mr. Ben Aissa’s juniors, took part in an alleged scheme to extract Saadi Gadhafi and his family from Libya during the height of that country’s revolution in 2011.
Since November, 2011, a Canadian mediator, Cynthia Vanier, has been incarcerated in Mexico on allegations that she conspired to smuggle Mr. Gadhafi to the resort town of Puerto Vallarta.
As Libyan rebels extended their push across the desert country in July, 2011, Mr. Roy enlisted Ms. Vanier to embark on what they called a fact-finding mission to Libya, where SNC’s many projects had been abandoned. The affidavit states that SNC-Lavalin financed the 10-day trip, which cost more than $740,000, and also included a security detail led by Saadi Gadhafi’s long-time bodyguard, a Cambridge, Ont., man named Gary Peters.
In the days before she left, Ms. Vanier sent an e-mail to Mr. Roy suggesting that, if SNC wanted to disassociate itself from the mission, there was a way to do that, but that it would be costly, the affidavit states. In that same e-mail, she wrote that the mission could include an option for extraction, “which would be $500,000 only if needed.”
(Ms. Vanier has disputed law enforcement’s interpretation of her use of the word “extraction,” arguing that the reference was to an emergency situation, where they might need to extract her or someone else because of the instability in Libya at that time.)
A follow-up trip to the war-torn country was planned for the fall. In late August, Mr. Roy e-mailed Ms. Vanier a copy of Saadi Gadhafi’s Libyan passport, as well as an old Canadian visa that had once been issued to Mr. Gadhafi, the affidavit states. A week later, Ms. Vanier sent an e-mail to Mr. Roy with three Mexican birth certificates, which the RCMP alleges was part of the plot to smuggle Mr. Gadhafi and his family out of Libya. “I have reason to believe that the birth certificates are false documents that were created to give out new identities to Saadi Gadhafi’s partner and their two children,” Corporal Makad states.
[December 10 ’12]
Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez was told of a plot to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, during a drive from Toluca to Mexico City in late September, 2011.
The alleged sources of this information, business partners Gregory Gillispie and Gabby de Cueto, who brokered an aircraft deal with Esquino Núñez, have denied the conversation ever took place.
Also set to testify is Esquino Núñez’s wife, Bertha Cruz de la Cruz. Bertha, formerly a good friend of Ms. de Cueto’s, claims to have received an email on August 25 2011 from de Cueto which included a passport image of Saadi Gaddafi and bogus names and birth information for his wife and two children.
At this time Ms. de Cueto is imprisoned in Chetumal, Mexico, along with the Canadian mediator Cynthia Vanier, whom the Mexican’s claim was the organizer of the alleged the plan.
La politica’s sources in Mexico indicate that the authorities are now on the hunt for Mr. Esquino Núñez, but have been unable to find him.
Esquino Núñez is scheduled to testify on Friday with his wife Bertha via video link from Mexico City. He has been a no-show in the past. Presumably, Mr. Esquino Núñez will be asked to confirm that the alleged Gaddafi plot was mentioned to him, thus corroborating his statements to the PGR.
Mr. Esquino Nuñez is a curious character. When La politica first became involved with the case regarding Cynthia Vanier, we visited Ms. Vanier’s parents on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico. One piece of information that was given to us at that time, and that seemed very odd, concerned the role of a married couple: “Bertha” and “Ed”.
Ms. Vanier’s parents did not know who these two individuals were. However, we were informed that Ed was a criminal, and that Bertha – the best friend of Gabby de Cueto (aka Gabriela Davila Huerta), who now shares a jail cell with Ms. Vanier in Chetumal, Mexico – might have planted the fake Mexican voting card on Ms. Vanier.
This card is a key piece of evidence in the case against Ms. Vanier, as it was on her person when she was arrested on November 10, 2011, and connects her to a false Mexican identity for one Cinthia Anne Macdonald Grau, who opened two bank accounts that were allegedly to be used to funnel cash into Mexico to support Mr. Gaddafi in his new life.
We now know that Bertha is Bertha Cruz de la Cruz, and Ed is her husband, Christian Eduardo Esquino Nuñez. Both these individuals are central to the prosecution’s case against Ms. Vanier and the three other defendants.
Those other defendants are: Ms. De Cueto, Mr. Gillispie’s business partner and Bertha’s best friend, who helped broker aircraft for Ms. Vanier; Pierre Flensborg, a jet-setting Dane who was a business associate of Ms. De Cueto’s; and José Luis Kennedy Prieto, known as a document forger, but who was also at one time a police commander of homicide squads in Mexico City and Hidalgo.
Bertha Cruz de la Cruz is relevant also because she allegedly received an email to her Gmail account from Gabby de Cueto’s Yahoo account that included an attached photocopy of Saadi Gaddafi’s passport, as well as references to his family members.
According to a statement Ms. Cruz de la Cruz gave to Mexican prosecutors, she queried Gabby de Cueto as to why she received the email, and Gabby then allegedly asked Bertha if she knew of anyone who could put together false documentation for Gaddafi, his wife, and their young son and daughter.
Ms. Cruz de la Cruz, law abiding citizen that she is, apparently told Mexican law enforcement that she further challenged Ms. De Cueto as to why she would be asking for that, as it could land them all in a boatload of trouble.
Gregory Gillispie owns a San Diego–based company called Veritas Worldwide Security, which the media has linked from the beginning to this increasingly contorted smuggling plot. Gillespie, who is named as a suspect, has stated that he only brokered the plane contracts.
Gillispie said that he owns several companies, one the security company called Veritas Worldwide Security and another a brokering service called GG Global Air, which was the company that brokered the plane lease with Cynthia Vanier. He said that Vanier contacted one of his business partners through an agent last year around July 7. Vanier was going on a fact-finding mission to Libya and wanted to rent a plane that was not registered in the United States.
“I know multiple aircraft charter services,” Gillispie said, “and the cheapest by far was from Mexico.”
Gillispie and his partner Gabriela de Cueto, a Coronado resident whose nickname is Gabby, contacted Christian Esquino to negotiate the rental of one of his jets.
“I did not know Christian Esquino,” Gillispie said. “The first time I ever contacted or spoke to Christian Esquino was about a week to ten days prior to when Cindy [Vanier] and the crew made the trip. Gabby had known Mr. Esquino for about ten years. She was best friends with his wife, Bertha. Christian, Bertha, Gabby lived in Coronado.
“Christian had been investigated in the United States for being associated with the Félix Arellano cartel and for buying old airplanes from the Mexican Department of Agriculture, repainting them, creating bogus logs, and reselling the planes to people in the United States. One plane crashed. Seized up. So they arrested Christian, and he ended up spending two years in Lompoc.
“When Christian got out, he was deported, in 2007. Then the Mexicans arrested him. He spent one day in jail, and he escaped, he’s on the lam. In Mexico he operates under the name of Eduardo Nuñez. His full name is Christian Eduardo Esquino Nuñez.
“He now operates a jet-service business out of Toluca, where the executive jets land for Mexico City.”
Antonio Martínez Luna was Veritas Worldwide Solutions’ vice president of Latin American operations. Before his name disappeared from the website in December, his biographical entry said that Luna, an attorney, “was the Port Director in Tijuana Baja California and Reynosa Tamaulipas and Chief of Customs of Tijuana Baja California Airport…. Mr. Martínez’s last public post was as the Attorney General for the State of Baja California,” where he “was responsible for coordinating the fight against organized crime in Baja California.”
Five years ago, in 2007, when Luna was Baja’s attorney general, the weekly Tijuana newspaper Zeta posted a videotape on its website. The tape contained an accusation believed to have been extracted through force. On the tape, José Ramón Velásquez Molina, a former commander of Tijuana police and an alleged cartel hitman, accused Luna, or El Blindado — the armored one — of working with the Sinaloa cartel against the Arellano Félix cartel. Molina’s corpse was later dumped in front of the home of Luna’s girlfriend.
A Los Angeles Times blog article written around that time reported that Luna traveled in an armored car, the reason he was “supposedly referred to in the criminal underworld as ‘El Blindado.’” The article also mentioned a corrido — a Mexican ballad — posted on YouTube in which “a Mexican Norteño band sings a death threat against the attorney general.”
Adela Navarro Bello, general director of Zeta, said in an email exchange that Luna left office at the end of 2007, at the conclusion of Governor Eugenio Elorduy Walther’s term. “There was never an investigation of [Luna],” she said. “Today he is a resident of the United States.”
The Los Angeles Times referred to the videotape in a 2009 story about Calexico titled “One Mexico border city is quiet, maybe too quiet.” The article states, “Officials in Mexico and the U.S. have suspected government ties to the Sinaloa cartel since a videotaped confession of a cartel gunman surfaced two years ago, alleging that former state Att. Gen. Antonio Martinez Luna was taking payoffs. Martinez Luna has vehemently denied the accusation.”