OTTAWA — The RCMP says it is not investigating allegations of political interference in the federal handling of criminal charges against engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
In a statement today, the Mounties set the record straight after a recent response to a public interest group’s Access to Information request suggested the Mounties were conducting such a probe.
In 2015, SNC-Lavalin Group and two of its affiliates, SNC-Lavalin Construction and SNC-Lavalin International, were charged with corruption of a foreign public official and fraud stemming from business dealings in Libya.
SNC-Lavalin had unsuccessfully pressed the director of prosecutions to negotiate a special settlement — known as a remediation agreement — out of concern the company could be barred from federal contracts for a decade if convicted of criminal charges.
In early 2019, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that prime ministerial aides leaned on Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was the federal attorney general at the time, to ensure there was a deal that would avoid prosecution.
Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet days later and was subsequently ousted from the Liberal caucus.
The federal ethics watchdog concluded in August 2019 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act in the way he dealt with the issue.
In a written response to questions from The Canadian Press, the national police force said its sensitive and international investigations unit conducted an assessment pertaining to the interference allegations.
“As part of that review the RCMP spoke with and collected information from a variety of sources, and examined the matter in the most thorough, objective and professional manner,” the force said.
“After a comprehensive and impartial assessment of all available information, the RCMP determined that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate a criminal offence and the file was concluded.”
The conclusion was also communicated to the original complainant in a letter in January, the force added.
Under an agreement announced in December 2019, SNC-Lavalin Construction pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud over $5,000, agreeing to pay a $280-million penalty and be subject to a three-year probation order. The remaining charges were stayed.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2023.
The Canadian Press