The SNC-Lavalin Group has taken another step to distance itself from the corruption scandal that rocked the Canadian engineering giant, suspending severance payments to former president and CEO Pierre Duhaime.
Duhaime was slated to receive $4.9 million in severance payments after he stepped down earlier this year amid swirling controversy.
SNC-Lavalin made the announcement on Thursday, with SNC chair Gwyn Morgan saying in a statement that Duhaime’s late November arrest by anti-corruption police in Quebec “suggests that there may be additional facts regarding Duhaime of which the board was not aware at the time of his departure.”
Duhaime was arrested and charged with fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and the use of false documents. The charges relate to allegations of fraud in securing a lucrative contract for the McGill University Health Centre, a $1.3 billion super-hospital. Duhaime faces a February court date regarding the charges.
The move by SNC-Lavalin is the latest in its efforts to recover from a series of incidents that saw various allegations of corruption and bribery arise. Former vice president Riadh Ben Aissa was arrested in Switzerland with regard to allegations of improper payments made to secure contracts overseas.
The company has since updated its code of ethics and made it easily accessible online in a bid for increased transparency and accountability. It has also added a 24-hour ethics hotline, which will be overseen by EthicsPoint, a third party agency.
“SNC-Lavalin is unequivocal that no unethical behaviour or illegal acts must ever be tolerated and re-affirms its view that anyone found to have committed any wrongdoing should be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions,” the company’s statement reads.
The statement also confirmed the company’s commitment to working with authorities as investigations into the allegations continue.
Since the controversy began, SNC-Lavalin has installed Robert Card as its new president and CEO and has successfully won bids for several high-profile contracts both in Canada and abroad.