A former executive Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin has been formally indicted in Switzerland on allegations regarding the laundering of at least $139 million of funds that were allegedly used to obtain contracts in Tunisia and Libya, a report on CBC News says.
Former SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa, who was arrested last spring and remains in jail on suspicion of money laundering and corruption of public officials related to his business dealings in North Africa, was indicted on November 25, the report says.
According to the report, RCMP officials have travelled to Switzerland and are working together on a joint investigation with prosecutors in Switzerland.
It is alleged that Swiss authorities have tracked money flowing from the Canadian firm to Swiss bank accounts registered to companies in the British Virgin Islands, some of which then went directly into Swiss bank accounts controlled by Ben Aissa.
“Swiss investigators are interested in this network of companies and accounts, transfers that were allegedly authorized by Riadh Ben Aissa to obtain contracts in Tunisia and, especially, Libya,” RTS reported Sunday.
Geneva-based lawyer Roland Kaufman has also been charged with money laundering and corruption after authorities accused him of helping Ben Aissa set up two companies, Dinova and Duvel Securities, registered in the British Virgin Islands. It is reported that investigators are probing millions of dollars in payments from SNC-Lavalin to those companies’ Swiss bank accounts from as far back as 2001.
SNC-Lavalin has been engulfed in scandal since employees and insiders began leveling allegations of criminal activity tied to the company’s Libyan business dealings while the Gadaffi regime was in power following the fall of the regime.
Ben Aissa, who controlled the Canadian firm’s Libyan business at the time, was forced to resign earlier this year, with the company’s chief executive Pierre Duhaime also stepping down in March after auditors discovered problems with payments of $56 million made by the company.