* Review of payments to SNC agents for Libya projects
* SNC cannot confirm reports that ex-VP has been indicted
* SNC shares fall 2.2 pct
TORONTO, Nov 26 Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group Inc
said on Monday that Swiss police were likely reviewing
payments made to two companies it had retained for projects in
Libya between 2001 and 2011 as part of a broader investigation
into a former SNC executive.
Canada's largest publicly traded engineering and
construction company said it could not confirm media reports
that a former SNC vice president, Riadh Ben Aissa, had been
indicted on allegations that he had laundered money in
connection with $139 million in payments by SNC.
Swiss public broadcaster RTS said that investigators were
tracking funds that flowed from SNC to the Swiss bank accounts
of Dinova International Inc and Duvel Securities Inc.
Prosecutors have also charged Geneva-based lawyer Roland
Kaufmann with money laundering and corruption, and accused him
of helping Ben Aissa set up the companies, which are registered
in the British Virgin Islands, according to the report.
SNC, whose CEO resigned earlier this year in the fallout
from a corporate misconduct scandal, confirmed that it retained
Dinova and Duvel as commercial agents in connection with
projects in Libya.
The Montreal-based company, which conducted an internal
audit earlier this year into millions of dollars of payments
that it could not track down, said its review did not focus on
any specific payments to the two companies.
"Subsequent to the independent review, we learned that all
or certain payments made to those companies were likely being
reviewed by Swiss authorities in their investigation," SNC
spokeswoman Leslie Quinton said in an email.
"We have provided information and documentation to the
appropriate authorities and this includes the information we had
on Duvel and Dinova."
SNC is unaware of any evidence that funds paid to the
companies were misused, but reserves the right to recover any
money that was misused, she said.
Shares of SNC fell 2.2 percent to close at C$40.63 on the
Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. The stock has shed some 25
percent of its value since the company announced in February
that Ben Aissa and a vice-president of finance had abruptly
The RTS report puts pressure on SNC's stock because it
points to larger payments made over a longer period of time than
those uncovered in SNC's internal audit, said RBC Capital
Markets analyst Sara O'Brien in a note.
Chief Executive Pierre Duhaime resigned in March after the
company's probe showed he had authorized $56 million in payments
to unknown agents on nonexistent construction projects in 2010
Ben Aissa was arrested in Switzerland in April on suspicion
of money laundering and corruption of public officials.
The Tunisian-Canadian executive, who was in charge of SNC's
international construction projects, was a key link to the
former Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, the Globe and Mail
Canadian police are investigating the mysterious payments
along with 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.
SNC has handed over information from its internal probe to
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, whom reports say are now
involved in the Swiss investigation.