Canada's SNC Lavalin offers amnesty to staff for corruption information

TORONTO Mon May 27, 2013 10:25am EDT

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TORONTO May 27 (Reuters) - SNC Lavalin Group is offering amnesty to employees who report corrupt activity to the Canadian construction and engineering company, which is engulfed in a far-reaching scandal that includes allegations of bribery and fraud.

The program, which excludes top executives and anyone who directly profited from misconduct, marks a bigger push for information from staff at SNC, which hired a compliance officer in February as it attempts to restore its tarnished reputation.

The scandal-mired company is trying to get out from under a series of cases in which former top executives have been charged with bribery and corruption for activities in Canada, Libya and Bangladesh.

Current employees will have 90 days between June and August to request amnesty for information on potential corruption or anti-competition matters said SNC, which said it believes the program marks a first for a Canadian company. Amnesty does not extend to executives in the office of the president or management committee groups.

The Montreal-based company guarantees that it will not fire or make claims for damages against any staff who voluntarily report violations of its code of ethics.

"While the vast majority of SNC Lavalin's employees will have nothing to report, this offer of amnesty will allow us to uncover and quickly deal with any remaining issues," said chief compliance officer Andreas Pohlmann in a statement.

"Our goal is to turn the page on a challenging chapter in the company's history, so we can focus all of our attention on creating value for our stakeholders."

Last week, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services cut its long-term corporate credit and senior unsecured ratings on SNC to BBB from BBB-plus. The agency said it expects high administration costs from SNC's ethics scandal will hurt profitability.

Last May, SNC vowed to get to the bottom of any misconduct, saying it encouraged employees to come forward with any information that would help with police investigations.

Shares of SNC were up 46 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, at C$41.25 on the Toronto Stock Exchange in early trade on Monday.

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