Canada's SNC-Lavalin reaches deal on illegal political donations

OTTAWA, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Canadian construction and engineering company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, hit by a wide-ranging misconduct scandal in 2012, on Thursday said it had reached an agreement with authorities over illegal political donations.

As part of a voluntary compliance agreement with the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the country’s elections watchdog, the company acknowleged that some former executives had asked employees to donate money to political parties.

In some cases, employees who agreed to donate were then reimbursed in the form of false refunds for expenses or the payment of fictitious bonuses. Corporations are not allowed to give money to political parties in Canada.

“Our cooperation with the Commissioner reflects the efforts and progress we have made in terms of ethics and compliance since 2012, which our clients and partners now recognize,” SNC Chief Executive Neil Bruce said in a statement. The company pledged never to repeat the behavior.

Reports of scandals involving alleged corruption and bribery at SNC’s Libyan operations led to the ouster of its former chief executive in 2012, after the discovery that millions of dollars were missing.

In a separate statement issued on Thursday, the elections commissioner noted SNC’s full cooperation during the probe and said the compliance agreement did not leave the company with a criminal record.

The illegal donations totaled almost C$118,000 ($91,500) and covered the period between March 2004 and May 2011, when first the Liberals and then the Conservatives controlled the federal government. ($1=$1.29 Canadian) (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)