For­mer SNC-Lavalin exec charged with il­le­gal po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions

Montreal Gazette - - FINANCIAL POST - ROSS MAROWITS

A for­mer ex­ec­u­tive of engi­neer­ing gi­ant SNC-Lavalin has been charged by Canada’s elec­tion watch­dog with help­ing to or­ches­trate il­le­gal po­lit­i­cal donations paid to fed­eral po­lit­i­cal par­ties be­tween 2004 and 2011.

Nor­mand Morin, 76, faces five charges re­lated to so­lic­it­ing em­ploy­ees to make po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions and con­ceal­ing their iden­ti­ties. Morin couldn’t be im­me­di­ately reached for com­ment.

The charges were laid Wed­nes­day by the Com­mis­sioner of Canada Elec­tions in the Court of Que­bec on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the di­rec­tor of pub­lic prose­cu­tions.

“The com­pany can­not make a con­tri­bu­tion, so essen­tially it was an il­le­gal con­tri­bu­tion that the com­pany made and that this in­di­vid­ual was in­volved in or­ches­trat­ing,” said Michelle Lal­ib­erte, spokes­woman for the com­mis­sioner.

Lal­ib­erte wouldn’t dis­close if other peo­ple were in­ves­ti­gated and said the process can be lengthy de­pend­ing on its com­plex­ity.

The for­mer SNC-Lavalin vi­cepres­i­dent is the only per­son charged, and the com­mis­sioner is con­clud­ing his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the event.

“With any in­ves­ti­ga­tion, if new in­for­ma­tion were to come to light then we would look at it and de­ter­mine how best to pro­ceed but that’s true of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Lal­ib­erte added.

The Mon­treal-based com­pany agreed in 2016 to a com­pli­ance agree­ment, which de­tailed al­most $118,000 in donations to the Lib­eral and Con­ser­va­tive par­ties through com­pany em­ploy­ees or their spouses who were then re­im­bursed by SNC-Lavalin.

This il­le­gal prac­tice for skirt­ing cor­po­rate do­na­tion lim­its was iden­ti­fied by a Que­bec anti-cor­rup­tion in­quiry as a wide­spread prob­lem in mu­nic­i­pal and Que­bec pro­vin­cial pol­i­tics.

Fed­eral Elec­tions Com­mis­sioner Yves Côté in­ves­ti­gated the donations since the pro­vin­cial Char­bon­neau Com­mis­sion’s man­date prevented it from fol­low­ing fed­eral po­lit­i­cal threads.

The im­prop­erly do­nated sums in­cluded: $83,534.51 to the Lib­eral Party of Canada; $13,552.13 to var­i­ous Lib­eral rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tions; $12,529.12 to four con­tes­tants in the 2006 Lib­eral lead­er­ship race, in­clud­ing $5,000 each to Michael Ig­nati­eff and Bob Rae; $3,137.73 to the Con­ser­va­tive Party of Canada; and $5,050 to var­i­ous Con­ser­va­tive rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tions.

All the funds have been re­paid to the fed­eral trea­sury by the re­spec­tive na­tional par­ties, both of whom dis­avow any knowl­edge of the scheme.

The case is slated to re­sume June 27 in Mon­treal.

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