November 25, 2012 / 8:14 PM / 8 years ago

Former SNC-Lavalin executive charged in Switzerland: report

TORONTO (Reuters) - A former executive of SNC-Lavalin (SNC.TO) has been indicted in Switzerland on allegations he laundered money in connection with $139 million in payments by the company, according to CBC News and RTS, the Swiss public broadcaster.

Riadh Ben Aissa, a former vice president, has been charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering involving transactions executed in North Africa, according to the report.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are working with Swiss police on the investigation, according to the CBC, citing unidentified police sources.

Swiss authorities have tracked funds that flowed from SNC-Lavalin, Canada’s largest engineering company, to Swiss bank accounts. The accounts were registered to companies in the British Virgin Islands, according to the report.

Ben Aissa was arrested in Switzerland last year on suspicion of money laundering and corruption of public officials but had not yet been formally charged.

SNC-Lavalin could not be immediately reached for a reaction to the report.

The company, however, told the CBC it was not commenting.

“Because these investigations are ongoing and we continue to cooperate, unfortunately there is nothing further that we are able to add at this time, except to reiterate that we hope that if anyone is found to have committed any wrongdoing, they are brought to justice,” a company spokeswoman told the CBC.

Ben Aissa’s Canadian lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The Globe and Mail reported that the Tunisian-Canadian executive was in charge of SNC’s international construction projects and a key link for the company to the former Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

SNC-Lavalin’s former chief executive Pierre Duhaime resigned in March on accusations from the company that he authorized $56 million in payments to unknown agents on nonexistent construction projects. Canadian police are investigating.

They are also investigating bribery allegations against SNC executives involving a $1.2 billion bridge project in Bangladesh. The World Bank has suspended its loan for the development and temporarily banned an SNC subsidiary from bidding on its contracts in the country.

Reporting by Russ Blinch; Editing by Dale Hudson

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