SNC- Lavalin is one of the largest Canadian owned and operated Engineering firms practicing throughout the world today. Originally founded in 1911, this fifth largest global engineering firm is considered one of the leading engineering and construction groups in the world. They boast as “maintaining exceptionally high standards for quality, health and safety, and environmental protection, and SNC-Lavalin has built its profitable $6 billion a year empire upon the acquisition of worldwide infrastructure projects. These projects include highway and bridge works, Hydro-electric dam construction, and/or mining infrastructure set up. While conducting business in over 100 countries worldwide it SNC-Lavalin is continually breaking cultural boundaries and connecting the world. However, it is over the last few decades that certain executives within SNC- Lavalin have conducted and acquired business through un-ethical means . SNC-Lavalin was denounced throughout the Canadian media throughout 2011 and 2012 for taking part in; bribery, anti-trust negotiations, and aiding in the facilitation of violations against the International Human Right Act. These actions were a clear violation of their stated Corporate Code of Ethics explicitly presented as;
From our early beginnings, we have recognized the need to establish a multicultural workforce. Consistent with these values, we prohibit actions and behavior that is discriminatory, harassing and violent.
We must not seek to obtain competitive intelligence unlawfully through industrial espionage, bribery, theft or electronic eavesdropping.
We must refrain from giving anything of value indirectly (for example, to a consultant, agent, intermediary, business partner or other third party) if we have reason to believe that it will be passed on to a government official or a private commercial partner to obtain an improper advantage.
By 2011 there began an in depth investigation into the dealings of the SNC-Lavalin engineering firm and their involvement with Dictator Moammar Gaddafi. At this time Gaddafi was an oppressive dictator with a known history of human rights violations. The project in question was a $275 million dollar contract to build a Prison in Tripoli, Libya, described by the SNC-Lavalin Corporation as a facility of law and order the only in the country to be built according to international standards. Although it was commonly known that prisons under the control of Dictator Moammar Gaddafi were historically used for the oppression and violence against non-supporters. It was later founded that not only was SNC-Lavalin taking part in the construction of a facility intended for the violation of International Human Rights Act, but that the contract was received through bribery and anti-trust practices. Finances in the order of $60-$160 million dollars were found to be traced from SNC-Lavalin to Gaddafi’s family and government for services unknown.
CEO Pierre Duhaime was questioned about this unethical involvement and these untracked financial transactions obtaining little support neither corporate nor public, eventually resulting in his resignation on March 26, 2011, at that time the third executive to do so. Eventually in late 2011 the SNC-Lavalin Engineering firm removed itself from Libyan projects ultimately leaving behind $22.9 million dollars in Libyan banks and taking nipa public reputation beating.
Charbonneau Commission [edit | edit source]
On October 19, 2011, premier of Quebec, Jean Charest announced the creation of a province-wide investigation into the corruption of the construction industry occurring in the province. Prompting the investigation were claims of unethical distribution of construction contracts, made in a report by Jacques Duchesneau – a member of the province's “anti-corruption squad”.
On March 14th, 2013, a key testimony was made by SNC-Lavalin executive Yves Cadotte where he admitted that the engineering company took part in illegal political party financing. In response to solicitation from governing bodies, SNC-Lavalin had its employees write personal cheques, which were reimbursed in the form of year-end bonuses. A significant number of cheques were made out to maximum values allowed by Quebec political financing laws. By using this scheme, SNC was able to donate over $1 million to provincial and municipal governments in Quebec.
A single donation that was highlighted in the testimony was SNC’s donation of $200,000 to Union Montreal, the city’s leading municipal party at the time. According to Cadotte, the payment was made through a fake invoice to the party as well as a cash exchange in a Union parking lot. In his defense, Cadotte claimed “we were solicited, the government was an important client and we responded”.
The Charbonneau commission has exposed several engineering companies, construction companies, and politicians for their involvement in this scheme of collusion and kickbacks in return for government contracts. For their involvement, SNC faces ethical scrutiny for their lack of integrity, honesty, and impartiality. Their conduct is an obvious breach of Quebec’s Code of Ethics of Engineers, article 3.02.09 of the Engineers Act, 1981:
An engineer shall not pay or undertake to pay, directly or indirectly, any benefit, rebate or commission in order to obtain a contract or upon the carrying out of engineering work.
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