The U.K. Serious Fraud Office is seeking documents as part of a “pending” probe into a dispute between Societe Generale SA and the Libyan Investment Authority, days after the bank agreed to pay 963 million euros ($1.06 billion) to resolve a related civil-bribery lawsuit.
The Libyan case hinged on a $58.4 million payment made by Societe Generale to Leinada, a Panama-registered corporation owned by Walid Al-Giahmi.
[June 3 2013 SNC -Lavalin Algiers raided by police ]
Police in Algeria have raided the offices of SNC-Lavalin in the capital Algiers amid a probe into allegations of bribery and kickbacks involving public officials and agents hired by SNC-Lavalin to procure a number of large infrastructure projects.
SNC-Lavalin currently has a number of proposals and bids submitted on major projects in the country which have been quietly rejected by Algerian government officials. However, there has been no formal announcement by the government on whether SNC-Lavalin has been banned from bidding on projects.
“We have not been officially informed of any suspension of the right to bid nor to work on current projects, and are currently in discussions with the government to help them have a better understanding of the issues. SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) confirmed that authorities searched its Algerian headquarters on May 27.
Quinton said police have not provided the company with any details of its search.
Algerian media say police are investigating an $825-million contract SNC-Lavalin won in 2005 to build the Hadjret Ennous power plant near Algiers.
The Algerian investigation flows from information gathered by the Swiss examining former SNC vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa, who has been jailed for more than a year without formal charges.
They linked Ben Aissa to Algerian consultant Farid Bedjaoui, who allegedly transferred about $200 million to Algerian leaders to help several firms win contracts with the country’s state-run petroleum company Sonatrach.
Bedjaoui was educated at Montreal’s HEC business school and is the nephew of former Algerian foreign affairs minister Mohammed Bedjaoui.
SNC-Lavalin has been awarded a contract by Groupe OCP S.A., a global leader in phosphates extraction. OCP S.A. was founded in 1920 and is headquartered in Casablanca, Morocco. The Group is a major factor in the Moroccan economy, representing 24% of the nation’s exports in 2010.
The training program will be delivered in four large new training centres currently being built by OCP. The extraction and treatment of phosphate rock takes place at our four mining centers (Khouribga, Youssoufia, Benguerir, Boucraâ-Laâyoune).
Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin is facing a new scandal and a $1.24-million wrongful dismissal lawsuit alleging attempted coverups by executives involving millions of dollars in controversial payments to an agent it employed for a dam project in Angola.
This latest controversy over the payment of commissions to hired ‘agents’ in foreign countries involves SNC-Lavalin’s hydro power division and follows the surprising and seemingly benign resignation of executive vice-president Patrick Lamarre on Jan. 18, and the dismissal of three employees — John Brown, Jean-Pierre Mourez and their boss Joseph Salim, who filed the lawsuit earlier this week in Montreal.
Last spring, Swiss police and the RCMP raided the company’s Montreal headquarters in a probe alleging $160 million in improper payments tied to projects in Libya.
The company has characterized its troubles as being the result of a rogue employee, former executive vice-president of the construction division Riadh Ben Aïssa, who is in jail in Switzerland awaiting trial on charges of money laundering, and corruption of public officials tied to SNC-Lavalin business in North Africa.
But the wrongful dismissal suit directs attention at a different division, and alleges executives at the highest level of SNC-Lavalin directly instructed and attempted to subvert internal company controls to cover up a 10 per cent commission to be paid to an agency in Angola.
Investigators are probing SNC’s operations in Algeria over bribes the company allegedly paid to secure at least $1-billion in contracts with oil producer Sonatrach. After Libya, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Canada and Switzerland.
The man who held the purse strings for SNC-Lavalin, as it conducted business around the world from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal to Gadhafi’s Great Man Made River in Libya, is suing the engineering firm for almost $1 million for wrongful dismissal and defamation.
Stéphane Roy, who was vice-president comptroller for SNC-Lavalin until he was fired on Feb. 9, 2012, in the wake of allegations of corruption and fraud within the company, says he has been made a scapegoat for following company directives and acting according to its “moral standards and expectations.”
“The defendant (referring to SNC-Lavalin) had created a corporate culture in which the common practice was to do whatever was necessary, including paying “commissions” and other benefits, to obtain contracts,” reads a lawsuit launched last Thursday in Quebec Superior Court, “including in Libya.”
Roy, who rose through the ranks of SNC-Lavalin over 15 years, reported directly to Riadh Ben Aissa — executive vice-president of SNC-Lavalin, who in turn reported to former CEO Pierre Duhaime.
Ben Aissa, who also left the company almost exactly one year ago, was arrested two months later in Switzerland, where he remains incarcerated. He has been charged with corrupting a public official, fraud and money laundering. Duhaime, who took early retirement in March, was arrested in November and formally charged on Monday with fraud and using a counterfeit document (a contract) to commit fraud against the MUHC.
The allegations relating to Roy and Ben Aissa go beyond the framework of the MUHC, however. An affidavit presented by the RCMP in support of a search warrant for SNC-Lavalin headquarters in April reveals that both men had unorthodox dealings with the Gadhafi family in Libya, in particular with Saadi Gadhafi — Moammar’s son.
According to the affidavit, Roy’s own home was searched by the RCMP on April 3 — one week before the raid on SNC headquarters — for emails, bank statements and expense accounts. The searches revealed that Roy hired an interior designer for Saadi Gadhafi’s condo in Toronto and SNC-Lavalin paid the designer’s fees — $202,333. Bank records show that Roy regularly paid Gadhafi’s condo fees out of his personal bank account — Roy himself declared that Ben Aissa later reimbursed him.
But the most troubling and serious allegations contained in the affidavit relate to Roy’s role in a so-called “fact-finding mission” to Libya, which the RCMP believe was intended to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi and his family out of Libya, then in the midst of a civil war, and into Mexico with false papers.
SNC-Lavalin provided the RCMP with documents that showed Roy had paid Cindy Vanier, a mediator from Ontario, more than $740,000 for the 10-day trip to Libya. (Vanier was arrested in Mexico in November 2011.) The RCMP also uncovered emails between Roy and Vanier in which they appear to discuss how to hide their true intentions and obtain false documents.
Roy, a financial comptroller, arrived in Mexico the day Vanier was arrested, and he met with Gabriela De Cueto, Vanier’s co-accused, the next day, ostensibly to drum up business on water projects for the firm. The meeting had lasted 10 minutes when De Cueto was arrested in the back of a car.
Gary Peters, 49, filed an application for leave and judicial review with the Toronto branch of Federal Court, allowing him to stay in the country temporarily while judges review the allegations against him.
Lawyers for the border services agency say Peters was complicit in war crimes while serving as a bodyguard to al-Saadi Gadhafi during the Libyan civil war. They also accuse Peters of engaging in people smuggling by helping al-Saadi escape Libya to neighbouring Niger.
Peters maintained his innocence throughout the deportation hearing, saying he was only doing his job as a paid bodyguard. He said the allegations of war crimes complicity were “unfair.”
A former associate of his, Cynthia Vanier, a negotiator specializing in aboriginal affairs originally of Mount Forest, is facing charges in Mexico for allegedly trying to smuggle al-Saadi Gadhafi into that country — charges she has repeatedly denied.
Peters said he provided security services to Vanier during a fact-finding mission in Libya with Quebec-based engineering firm SNC Lavalin, which had construction projects in the country.
The two parted ways in September 2011 and he said he only heard later that she’d been arrested.
Peters’ statement to the RCMP, which was taken on Jan. 18. On Feb. 1, Vanier was formally arrested. The indictment, sections of which have also been obtained by the Star, refers to this document repeatedly.
In it, Peters says Vanier spoke to him in May about obtaining travel documents for Saadi Gadhafi and his family with the help of De Cueto, an associate with Veritas.
“Around the month of May 2011, Cynthia Vanier stated that Gabriela De Cueto had high-ranking relations within the Mexican government and that she could provide legal documents that would enable Saadi, his wife and his two kids to move to Mexico for USD$100,000 per person,” said Peters in his statement.
By June, “Cynthia told me that this avenue could not be legally done, so for me, Mexico was no longer an option,” Peters said. Later in the questioning he said, “Gadhafi would have flown to Mexico in a legal fashion if at all feasible. But when it was discovered that it could not be done legally, the plan was abandoned.”
Peters was asked: “Do you think that Cynthia Vanier knew bringing Saadi Gadhafi in to Mexico from this point was illegal?”
He replied: “Yes, she knew. She was told by (De Cueto) who was the liaison between us and the Mexican contact.”
Peters said the plan was to be funded by SNC Lavalin as well as “different Saadi Gadhafi investments worldwide.”
— The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed financial sanctions on a South African woman accused of supporting Saadi Gaddafi, the son of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Dalene Sanders has been working to move money out of bank accounts held in Uganda on instruction from Saadi Qadhafi.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Dalene Sanders for providing support and services to Saadi Qadhafi, son of former Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi. Saadi Qadhafi is currently believed to be in Niger and he was designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13566 on March 11, 2011. The United Nations also imposed sanctions on Saadi Qadhafi on March 17, 2011 in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Dalene Sanders is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13566 because she has provided financial and material support to, as well as services in support of, Saadi Qadhafi. Additionally, Dalene Sanders is being designated for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of Saadi Qadhafi.
[June 5]A Mexican judge was expected to decide this week whether to continue with the case against Ms. Vanier and her co-accused. She is facing four counts, including attempted human trafficking.
[April 25] At an April 3 summit in Washington, D.C., with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon cited the Gaddafi smuggling case as an example of successful security co-operation against transnational crime.
“The attempt to take to Mexico one of the children of Gaddafi, this implied an international and very North American operation because it was headed up by a Canadian businesswoman, who hired an American company, which hired in turn Mexican pilots and counterfeiters,”
[January 27]John and Betty MacDonald of Brampton, Ont., were allowed to visit their daughter in a Mexican prison for the first time on January 26
No charges have been laid against Vanier. Under Mexican law, a person can be held for periods of 40 days without being formally charged. Vanier’s second 40-day period is about to expire, and her parents don’t know what to expect. A spokesperson for Canadian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy issued the following statement on the Vanier case late January 26:
“Ms. Vanier faces very serious allegations. Canadian officials are providing consular assistance to Ms. Vanier and her family. Also, our officials have been liaising with local authorities and will continue to follow it closely.”
CBC News reported in December that the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency in September investigated and even briefly detained Vanier. But Canadian officials wouldn’t say why. here
[December 24’11] Mexico has decided to hold Cynthia Vanier, who also goes by the name Cyndy, without charge at the Centro de Arraigos detention facility in Mexico City over Christmas, until Jan. 31st, extending provisions of her arrest orders. Vanier, a mediator from Mount Forest Ont., was arrested November 10 while in Mexico on vacation, the family says. Three other associates — two Mexican citizens and a Danish man — were arrested the next day. All have been held without charge under Mexico’s “preventative detention” laws, accused of plotting to move Saadi Gadhafi and three family members to Mexico using false identities and counterfeit travel documents.
[December 17]Gabriela Davila Huerta, who also goes by Gabriela de Cueto, owns a beach home in the Coronado Cays community, which features a private boat dock with an observation deck of the San Diego Bay, according to property records. Her Jaguar was parked there December 15, but no one answered the door. Cueto has been licensed by the state Department of Real Estate as a saleswoman since 2007. Co-workers at Foster Hamilton Real Estate Consultants on Fourth Avenue in San Diego said they had not seen her since August.
[December 11] A plot to smuggle al-Saadi Gaddafi, into Mexico was lead by a Canadian Chartered Mediator Cynthia Vanier. Saadi Gaddafi, the deceased colonel’s third son, is living under house arrest in the Western African country of Niger.
The plan was uncovered by Mexican intelligence agents in early September and the suspects were arrested and placed under house arrest
A Canadian who led a fact-finding mission to Libya last summer has been arrested in Mexico, and two partners of the U.S. private security contractor who supplied her plane are also in custody.
Gillispie is a partner in a holding company with two of those arrested in Mexico, Ms. Huerta and Mr. Flensborg.”
Gillispie reportedly told the paper that “Vanier, who still owed him $40,000 for the plane contract, had contacted him and asked to meet in Mexico City to discuss the debt. He said he sent his two partners to meet her and was ‘baffled’ by the arrests.”Gabriela Davila Huerta, also known as de Cueto[Gabriela Davila del Cueto ].She lived in the United States and served as the liaison to obtain the falsified Mexican identity documents.
Pierre Christian Flensborg, from Denmark, was ‘the logistic liaison’ for the plan.
The Danish jet-setting Pierre Christian Flensburg, who is arrested in connection with the dictator’s son Saadi Gaddafi’s flight plan to Mexico , has previously been at odds with the law – albeit in a somewhat more modest scale. Pierre Christian Flensburg, 32, was last in May 2011 convicted of theft of two pairs of designer jeans by the District Court in Houston, Texas, where he resides and, among other things, runs a nightclub.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa confirmed the arrest of Cynthia Vanier and said consular officials at the Canadian embassy in Mexico City were gathering information from local authorities.
Also arrested were two partners of Gregory Gillispie, an ex-Marine who heads Veritas Worldwide Security, a San Diego-based company that offers, among other services, “clandestine operations,” “armed combat” and provision of weapons.
“Probably I guess about 10 days to two weeks ago she called and said that the person that has the authority to write the cheques, in other words the person that would pay her, is going to be in Mexico City, if we could come down there, we’ll get paid,” he said.
Mahmod Razwan said he went to Libya with Cynthia Vanier to assess humanitarian needs in the country.
“So two of my other partners went down there to meet Cindy and this financier, is what you’d call him. And now I’m being told that my two partners have been incarcerated,” he said. “I don’t understand what this is all about.”
He said he found out about the arrests on Sunday but isn’t sure when they occurred. He said the detained men are his business partners in an aviation brokerage company. He doesn’t know why they are being held. “They’re basically victims of circumstance.”
Mexican prosecutors did not respond by deadline to questions about why Ms. Vanier was being held. Her lawyer, Paul Copeland, said he also did not know. “I am aware that my client is in custody in Mexico. I do not at this point have any details as to the basis of her arrest. I am waiting to near from the lawyers in Mexico.”
Ms. Vanier runs Vanier Consulting Ltd., incorporated in 2009 in Mount Forest, Ont. The company website describes her as a negotiator, mediator, fact-finder and consultant who works mostly with First Nations.
Gary Peters provided security on Mahmod Razwan’s and Cynthia Vanier’s trip.
It also says she has international experience in anti-terrorism and as a “negotiator in complex multi-cultural issues and hostage taking situations in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Bahamas and elsewhere.”
During the anti-Gaddafi revolution in Libya, she got a contract from an undisclosed financier to travel to Tripoli on a fact-finding expedition and began assembling a team. Mr. Gillispie said his company was contracted to supply a private plane for the trip.
The Veritas website says Mr. Gillispie has a background in special forces and has been awarded the Purple Heart. It describes him as “a highly decorated, repeatedly proven combat leader.” He said he provided Vanier use of the jet and two Mexican pilots for just over $80,000.
Mahmod Razwan, a Windsor, Ont., insurance broker and president and founder of the Canadian Libyan Friendship Association, also said he was contacted by Ms. Vanier, who asked him to join the expedition as a translator.
“They came and they said, ‘Yes, we work with Foreign Affairs and with United Nations and we could help there.’ And I said, ‘That’s fine, anybody wants to help these poor people I’ll be more than happy to assist.’ And that’s exactly what took place.”
Mr. Razwan said the purpose of the trip was to assess humanitarian needs. He said he did not know who paid for it. “It’s not my business,” he said. “If you invited me for a coffee … I’m not going to say how you going to pay for it, with Mastercard or Visa?”
Security for the trip was provided by Gary Peters, CEO of Can/Aust Security and Investigations International in Cambridge, Ont. A former Australian soldier, Mr. Peters has been a member of the Gaddafi family’s security team.
They boarded the jet in Ontario. Before crossing the Atlantic, the plane put down in Gander, Nfld., and Mr. Razwan said Canadian authorities spent considerable time talking to him and the Mexican pilots.
Mr. Razwan said he had once been on the U.S. “no-fly” list but said that was routine and his name had been removed. “That’s normal, many Libyans are,” he said of being on the list. “It was deleted now so I’m OK.”
Eventually allowed to proceed, their route took them to Pristina, Kosovo and Tunis, Tunisia. In Tripoli, Mr. Razwan said the team met Libyans and toured sites that had been bombed by NATO warplanes.
He said the fact-finding team and its security detail were well behaved and Libyans were glad to see them. “I felt privileged to be part of a group that I believed was ultimately there for humanitarian purposes.”
Mr. Razwan said he left the mission after two days and spent the rest of the trip visiting family. Tripoli was then mostly controlled by pro-Gaddafi forces but Mr. Razwan said he went to rebel-held areas as well. “Why not? As far as I was concerned they were all Libyans after all.” He said he was not paid for the trip.
After he returned to Canada, Mr. Razwan said he was questioned by RCMP officers in Windsor. “They came to me and they were very nice people, asking questions,” he said of the police. He said they had asked him about Mr. Peters, among other topics.
Mr. Peters returned to Canada on the jet but said he went back to Libya in August and helped Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi escape Tripoli to Niger in a convoy. He said he was caught in an ambush after crossing back into Libya and was shot in the shoulder.
Ms. Vanier said in an email to the National Post last month that Mr. Peters had been hired “to provide security and close protection for my fact finding mission in July. Saadi Gaddafi did not fund any of the work that I have done.
“Since I was the fact finder I have full knowledge of who my client is and can confirm that no funds have ever been provided by anyone on an asset freeze or travel ban list. As had been requested I provided a report to a branch of the Canadian government upon my return.” She did not say which branch or who had financed the trip.
According to Mr. Gillispie, he has so far been paid only half the agreed-upon amount for brokering the plane. “We’ve tried and tried and tried to get paid,” he said. “She always gives us this story that she’s working for the Canadian government, she works for the UN, and they’re the ones that control the purse strings.”
Then she contacted him to say the financier, whom she referred to as the “vice-president,” was to be in Mexico City and if they could all meet, Mr. Gillispie would get paid, he said. He said his partners were already planning to be there at that time so he agreed.
“On the surface that sounds kind of unusual, but we do a lot of business in Mexico and we’re there quite frequently,” he said. “It wasn’t like bells and whistles were going off.”
a Canadian company, Can/Aust Security and Investigations International, approached private security contractors in Ontario, offering $1,000-a-day to join the team that would pick up the 38-year-old Gaddafi and fly him, his wife and children out of Libya.
The estate is not in Gaddafi’s name and local realtors said they had not heard about it. But Can/Aust CEO Gary Peters told the National Post he was involved in the operation to bring the Libyan dictator’s third son to the Punta Mita property.
Mr. Peters said he had been to the property twice — once to view it and again when it was handed over. He would not identify it further, saying he did not want people snooping and that it likely would be sold soon anyway.