SNC-Lavalin Made Illegal Canada Election Contributions: Watchdog

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. made illegal political donations in Canada over seven years, the country’s elections watchdog said.

SNC-Lavalin employees and, in some cases, their spouses contributed C$117,803 ($91,270) to political parties between 2004 and 2011 and were reimbursed by the company, the Commissioner of Canada Elections said Thursday in a statement and so-called compliance agreement. The bulk of the money went to the Liberal Party now led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The plan was “done with the approval of certain senior executives” who are no longer with the Montreal-based engineering and construction firm, the watchdog said. Corporate political donations are illegal at the federal level in Canada.

Of the sum, C$109,616 went to the Liberal Party, its electoral district associations or leadership candidates, the elections commissioner reported. The Liberals governed until 2006 before taking power again last year. The remaining sum of roughly C$8,188 went to the Conservative Party, which governed from 2006 to 2015.

SNC-Lavalin “acknowledges that, in offering to reimburse its employees for federal political contributions, and in reimbursing such contributions, it was in fact making those contributions itself,” according to the compliance agreement. The company’s actions served to “conceal the true origin of the contributions in question.”

The company has acknowledged “non-compliance” and “accepts responsibility for these acts” but it has not made “an admission of guilt under criminal law,” the agreement said. The company “cooperated fully” with the commissioner’s investigation.

The compliance agreement was co-signed by SNC-Lavalin President and Chief Executive Officer Neil Bruce and Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Cote. “I am pleased that this agreement was reached. It once again shows our desire and commitment to resolve past issues,” Bruce said in a press release Thursday. The company has adopted new ethical and compliance measures to prevent such donations from reoccurring, he said.

SNC-Lavalin’s contributions have been reimbursed to the Canadian government, the elections commissioner said.

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