May 29, 2019 10:43 am
Updated: May 30, 2019 8:48 am

SNC-Lavalin will stand trial on criminal corruption charges, Quebec judge rules

WATCH: A Quebec judge has ruled that SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. will stand trial on charges of fraud and corruption

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SNC-Lavalin will stand trial on criminal corruption charges linked to its alleged business activities in Libya under former dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

A Quebec judge ruled Wednesday morning that prosecutors have enough evidence to sustain a trial of the Montreal engineering giant, which stands accused of fraud and bribing Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011 to get contracts.

The evidence is under a publication ban.

READ MORE: SNC-Lavalin executives look at breaking up company ahead of potential criminal conviction

If convicted, the company could face being barred for up to 10 years from bidding on government contracts.

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That prospect saw SNC-Lavalin lobby heavily for amendments to the Criminal Code that would let it admit wrongdoing but pay a fine or other penalties instead.

READ MORE: Feds say SNC-Lavalin submissions to public prosecutor over plea for deal can’t be released

The Liberals acquiesced and created the deferred prosecution framework last year.

But the director of public prosecutions declined to invite the company to negotiate such an agreement, which would have been the first time it was used in Canada, and that refusal is what former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and 10 of his most senior advisers to attempt to interfere in her decision not to overrule the director of public prosecutions.

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The resulting SNC-Lavalin scandal led to the resignation of Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary, as well as Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick.

Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, former president of the Treasury Board, both resigned from their posts in cabinet over concerns the matter was not being taken seriously enough by the government.

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Trudeau later kicked them out of the Liberal caucus and revoked their candidacy to run for the party after they continued raising those concerns.

He has maintained there was no “inappropriate” pressure applied.

Neither he nor David Lametti, who replaced Wilson-Raybould as attorney general, have ruled out giving the company a deal to avoid trial before the election.

A deal can be offered right up until a conviction.

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