Montreal (December 16, 2019) – A jury convicted former senior SNC-Lavalin executive Sami Bebawi on all five counts including fraud, corruption of foreign officials, and laundering proceeds of crime, on December 15. In the Libya corruption case, Bebawi was presented as the key figure in an elaborate scheme to bribe Libyan officials. SNC-Lavalin transferred about $113 million for securing lucrative construction projects in Libya. The money was mainly intended for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi. Bebawi profited personally from the bribes by pocketing $26 million in kickbacks.
The six week trial of an international corruption case that attracted great media attention, began its final phase on Sunday. The Quebec Superior Court jury convicted the former senior SNC-Lavalin executive, Sami Bebawi, on all counts including fraud, corruption of foreign officials, and laundering proceeds of crime.
A wide-reaching investigation by the RCMP and Swiss authorities found Bebawi a key figure in an elaborate scheme to bribe Libyan officials, according to The Canadian Press. In total, 300 exhibits were entered into evidence for consideration regarding the Libya corruption case.
The Libya corruption case
The engineering firm, SNC-Lavalin, won Libyan contracts worth $1.85 billion between 2001 and 2011. It is alleged that the number of contracts was accomplished through a scheme of bribery and corruption of the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The court heard from Crown star witness, Riadh Ben Aissa, that SNC-Lavalin transferred about $113 million to a shell company that he set up in order to secure lucrative construction projects for SNC-Lavalin. Aissa is a former SNC-Lavalin executive who was located in Libya and Bebawi was his superior. Aissa explained that most of the money was intended for Gaddafi’s son, Saadi. Eventually, he and Bebawi agreed to split the money that was left in the shell company, according to CBC News. This way, Bebawi pocketed $26 million in kickbacks. However, the 73-year-old former executive’s lawyers claimed the money was a legitimate bonus authorized by former SNC-Lavalin president, Lamarre.
Aissa claims that his activities had been approved by Bebawi. He was arrested in 2012 and served two years in a Swiss jail. While detained in Switzerland, Aissa signed an agreement to co-operate with the RCMP. Bebawi was charged in 2014 following an RCMP investigation that was supported by Swiss authorities.
The guilty verdict
On December 15, the jury delivered a guilty verdict, after three days of deliberation to all five charges which include fraud, corruption, laundering proceeds of crime, bribery of foreign public officials and possession of stolen goods. The latter entails three bank accounts, a condo in Florida and two amounts of roughly $15 million and $12 million, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer released Bebawi pending his sentencing. The hearing is scheduled for December 19. Additionally, the investigation led to charges against the Quebec engineering giant, SNC-Lavalin, itself. The trial against the company is expected for next year, barring an intervention by the federal Attorney-General, according to The Canadia Press.