SNC Lavalin confirms police search of Algerian offices

TORONTO, June 3 Mon Jun 3, 2013 12:47pm EDT

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TORONTO, June 3 (Reuters) - SNC Lavalin Group Inc., target of a far-reaching corporate misconduct scandal that includes allegations of bribery and fraud, confirmed on Monday that police searched its Algerian offices last week in connection with an investigation.

But the Canadian construction and engineering company gave no further details on the probe.

SNC said it co-operated with the May 27 search and that its Algerian offices, which employ more than 1,000 staff, continue to operate.

"We cannot comment on the investigation since it is active, except to say that we understand and appreciate their concern, given the current Algerian context, and are committed to helping them bring this to a resolution and reacting as required," SNC spokeswoman Leslie Quinton said in an email to Reuters.

Former top executives of the Montreal-based company have been charged with bribery and corruption for activities in countries including Libya, Canada and Bangladesh.

Swiss investigators probing whether SNC paid bribes in Libya began looking at the company's dealings in Algeria, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported in February.

SNC's former head of construction was charged in Switzerland last November on allegations of money laundering and corruption in relation to payments made in Libya.

Attempting to restore its reputation, SNC is offering amnesty to whistle-blowers between June and August to report corrupt or anti-competition activity. The program excludes top executives and anyone who directly profited from misconduct.

SNC announced the program after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services cut its long-term corporate credit and senior unsecured ratings on SNC, saying that it expects high administration costs from the company's ethics scandal will hurt profitability.

SNC shares were down 13 Canadian cents at C$40.70 on the Toronto Stock Exchange mid-session on Monday.

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