The headquarters of SNC Lavalin is seen Thursday, November 6, 2014 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

SNC-Lavalin backtracks on CEO’s comments surrounding potential job losses

Top boss had said protecting 9,000 jobs should grant leniency

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is walking back a statement by its CEO, who said last week he never cited the protection of 9,000 Canadian jobs as a reason the construction giant should be granted a remediation agreement.

Neil Bruce told The Canadian Press last Wednesday that if SNC-Lavalin is convicted of criminal charges and barred from bidding on federal contracts its workers would end up working for the Montreal-based company’s foreign rivals.

“We have never put forward anything that is purely an economic argument about jobs and why we think we qualify for a DPA (deferred prosecution agreement),” he said in an interview. “We put forward an argument in terms of the public interest.”

The charges stem from allegations the engineering firm paid millions of dollars in bribes to win government business in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

In a statement posted to its website Monday afternoon, SNC-Lavalin says it never threatened the federal government.

“However, the company had made it very clear to the government through its advocacy campaign that the implementation of a remediation agreement — known as a deferred prosecution agreement — was the best way to protect and grow the almost 9,000 direct Canadian SNC-Lavalin jobs, as well as thousands of indirect jobs through its more than 5,000 suppliers across Canada. The company still asserts this position.”

It added that an agreement is not “a get out of jail free card,” as a few commentators have stated.

“It is an internationally recognized tool for protecting innocent stakeholders from the criminal actions of a few bad actors in a company.”

SNC said countries around the world have made this tool available to their prosecution and that Canada was at a competitive disadvantage until it passed its own version of the DPA.

“If the remediation agreement is not available to SNC-Lavalin, the company will continue to vigorously pursue a path that allows it to move forward and defend its innocent employees to the fullest as it moves forward through the Canadian court system.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly held up potential job losses as the main reason he and other top officials spoke with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould about her decision not to intervene after federal prosecutors declined to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.

READ MORE: SNC-Lavalin maintaining Kelowna bridge amidst controversy in Ottawa

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin

Wilson-Raybould, who resigned from cabinet last month, has suggested political considerations rather than jobs were behind the alleged pressuring by the Prime Minister’s Office to hammer out an agreement with the company.

Earlier Monday, Chile’s state-owned copper mining company said it has terminated its contract with SNC-Lavalin, accusing the construction giant of breaching its obligations.

Codelco said SNC-Lavalin failed to live up to its commitments under a US$260-million contract attached to one of the world’s largest open pit copper mine, citing quality issues and delays in subcontractor payments and project execution.

The contract, awarded in November 2016, included engineering, supply and construction of two new acid plants for a smelter at the Chuquicamata mine in northern Chile.

The announcement from Codelco comes after SNC-Lavalin slashed its profit forecast twice in two weeks earlier this year, stemming largely from problems with the project and plunging SNC’s share price to 10-year lows of around $34.

SNC-Lavalin announced last month it had agreed to settle a dispute with the Chilean state miner through a fast-tracked arbitration process, which it expected would yield “significant recoveries in the future” on losses of about $350 million.

The project cancellation “likely means relations between the two companies have further soured” and could make clawing back any losses more “difficult” during arbitration, analyst Derek Spronck of RBC Dominion Securities said in a research note.

SNC-Lavalin did not respond immediately to requests for comment about the contract termination.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ryan’s Regards: Farewell to Langley landmarks

Gabby’s Country Cabaret and Mary’s British Store will be missed

Retired Langley RCMP officer publishes book of memories serving on the force

What Cops Talk About Over Coffee features array of stories from different police officers

Vancouver Giants to stream 2007 Memorial Cup championship game Saturday night

Giants versus Medicine Hat Tigers can be viewed on YouTube at 7 p.m.

Fraser Valley Regional Library branches offer curbside pick up

After two and a half months of being closed, people can once again check books out of the library

Nearly 6,200 Langley students set to return to school June 1

School district shared COVID-19 update during board meeting

Minimum wage goes up June 1 in B.C. as businesses face COVID-19 challenges

The minimum wage jumps by 75 cents to $14.60 an hour on Monday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Police watchdog investigating death of man in Delta

Independent Investigations Office asking for witnesses to May 29 incident at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Most Read