Second ex-Lavalin executive has charges stayed
• The former SNC-Lavalin vice-president accused of bribing a Libyan official to secure contracts in the war-torn country must be “presumed until the end of his days” after a judge ended the case, his defence lawyer says.Quebec court Judge Patricia Compagnone stayed proceedings against Stéphane Roy Tuesday, ruling the prosecution took too long getting the case to trial.She said the delays created by the prosecution “are an example of the culture of complacency that was deplored by the Supreme Court” in a 2016 ruling known as the Jordan decision.Roy was charged in 2014 with fraud, bribing a foreign official and violating United Nations sanctions against Libya in connection with SNC-Lavalin’s operations in that country during the regime of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The third charge was later dropped.Roy’s lawyers argued the delay — it has been around 60 months since Roy was in- itially charged, and his trial was not scheduled to begin until late spring — violated his right to a speedy trial.Compagnone agreed, ruling that the allowed time, established by the Supreme Court in the Jordan ruling, had been exceeded and ordering a stay of proceedings.The Jordan ruling requires cases with a preliminary hearing to go to trial within 30 months, barring exceptional circumstances. Delays initiated by the defence do not count toward the total.Compagnone said it was up to the Crown prosecutors to justify the delays and that they did not do so.“I’m very happy it’s finished,” Roy said after the hearing, “and I can resume my life.”Nellie Benoît, Roy’s lawyer, said only that Roy must be presumed innocent as he has not been proven guilty.“A trial is the occasion for the state to prove someone is guilty and also for an accused to prove he is not guilty,” Benoît said. “When there is a stay of proceedings, we will never have that decision, so Mr. Roy must be presumed innocent until the end of his days.”His case stemmed from the same RCMP investigation that led to charges against SNC-Lavalin itself. Those charges are fuelling controversy in Ottawa following a newspaper report that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the Quebec engineering firm avoid prosecution.An RCMP affidavit filed in relation to the investigation alleged that Roy was involved in a plot to smuggle Gadhafi’s son, Saadi, and his family into Mexico as the Libyan regime was falling in 2011.Roy was a vice-president and controller at the embattled engineering giant before being fired in February 2012. He was acquitted in July 2018 of fraud-related charges in connection with the construction of the McGill University Health Centre.Crown prosecutor Frederic Hivon had little to say after the ruling. Asked about an appeal, he replied: “We will take the time to analyze the decision.”It’s the second time a judge has tossed out a case against a Lavalin executive for taking too long to bring it to trial.Last week, Sami Bebawi, a former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president, and his Montreal-based tax lawyer, Constantine Kyres, had obstruction of justice charges against them stayed.They had been accused of offering a $10-million bribe to have a key witness change his testimony in a fraud and corruption case against Bebawi. The alleged recipient of the offer was Riadh Ben Aissa, another former SNCLavalin executive, who was detained in Switzerland at the time on charges of corrupting officials in Libya on behalf of Lavalin.After Bebawi found out he was being investigated, he allegedly asked Kyres to travel to Switzerland and offer to pay off Ben Aissa, Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer Court wrote in a summary of the obstruction case. In exchange, Bebawi wanted Ben Aissa to offer authorities a version of events that would exonerate him.Bebawi and Kyres were charged with obstruction of justice in 2014. A stay of proceedings was first issued in February 2018 after evidence was ruled inadmissible, but the charges were reinstated by direct indictment last May.Bebawi is still facing trial on charges of fraud and bribery of a Libyan public official.
Former SNC-Lavalin VP Stephane Roy leaves court in Montreal Tuesday after charges were stayed against him. RYAN REMIORZ / THE CANADIAN PRESS
© PressReader. All rights reserved.