Former SNC Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleads guilty for role in hospital bribery

Forner SNC Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime leaves the Montreal Courthouse, March, 2015, where he appeared for a preliminary hearing in the MUHC fraud case. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

Former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime has pleaded guilty to a charge of helping a public servant commit breach of trust for his role in a bribery scandal around the construction of a $1.3-billion Montreal hospital.

Duhaime was the last defendant in a major corruption and fraud case involving the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) project. His trial had been scheduled to start next week.

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Yanai Elbaz, a former MUHC senior manager, pleaded guilty in December to accepting a bribe and was sentenced to 39 months in prison. Former SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa pleaded guilty to a charge of using forged documents last July and was sentenced to 51 months in prison.

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Duhaime left SNC-Lavalin in March 2012 after an independent review found that he had approved $56-million in payments to undisclosed agents.

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In an agreed statement of facts presented in court in Elbaz’s case, the former MUHC official admitted to giving privileged information to SNC-Lavalin to help its submission for the contract to build a massive hospital complex in west-end Montreal.

Elbaz also admitted to denigrating SNC’s competitors in front of the hospital’s selection committee.

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Elbaz and Arthur Porter, the former CEO of the MUHC who died a fugitive in Panamanian custody in 2015, received a total of $22.5 million to rig the bidding process to favour SNC-Lavalin, the statement of facts said.

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Porter created a shell company that received the $22.5 million from the engineering firm.

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Elbaz then created his own shell company and received his share of the cash, the document said. Elbaz admitted that all the money in the shell companies was proceeds of crime.

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Police raided the MUHC’s offices in September 2012. The following February, Quebec’s anti-corruption unit issued warrants for the arrests of Duhaime, Ben Aissa, Elbaz and Porter.

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Duhaime had initially faced charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and using forged documents.

Porter’s wife, Pamela, was arrested later and in 2014 pleaded guilty to laundering the proceeds of crime.

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