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 to 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 Laliberté, spokeswoman for the commissioner.
Laliberté wouldn’t disclose if other people were investigated and said the process can be lengthy, depending on its complexity.
The former SNC-Lavalin vice-president 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,” Laliberté added in an interview.
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.
Morin was named in 2006 by the Harper government to the board of the Port of Montreal with his term ending in 2014.
The case is slated to resume June 27 in Montreal.