SNC-Lavalin told ex-exec arrested in Switzerland

Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:05pm EDT

* Former exec headed up SNC's construction operations

* Police probing SNC for payments scandal, Bangladesh allegations

* SNC CEO quit in March due to payments scandal

* Company says cooperating with authorities

April 29 (Reuters) - SNC-Lavalin said on Sunday it has received confirmation that a senior executive who left the company in February, and who SNC accuses of a central role in a $56 million payments scandal had been arrested in Switzerland.

SNC, Canada's biggest engineering company with operations in more than 100 countries, said it had been told that Riadh Ben Aissa, a former company executive vice-president who headed up its global construction operations, had been arrested.

SNC did not disclose who it had received confirmation from about the arrest. Earlier, news of the arrest of Ben Aissa was reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Montreal-based SNC itself had "no knowledge regarding specific details concerning his status," spokeswoman Leslie Quinton said in an emailed response to questions about Ben Aissa's reported arrest.

"SNC-Lavalin is committed to cooperating fully with any authorities that request its assistance in resolving the issues being investigated," she said.

The news of the arrest is the latest twist in an unfolding saga at the 100-year-old company that has already resulted in SNC's chief executive quitting last month and Canadian police launching an investigation.

SNC said in March that it had uncovered payments of $56 million made at the request of Ben Aissa to "agents" on projects that did not exist.

SNC is also being investigated by Canadian police over bribery allegations regarding a bridge project in Bangladesh.

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