SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has dismissed two senior executives with ties to Saadi Gadhafi, the son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The Montreal-based engineering firm said late Thursday that executive vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa and controller Stephane Roy are “no longer in the employ of the company.”
SNC declined to provide details of the dismissals but added in a press release that: “Questions regarding the conduct of SNC-Lavalin employees have recently been the focus of public attention. SNC-Lavalin reiterates that all employees must comply with our code of ethics and business conduct.”
Mr. Ben Aissa had been with SNC since 1985 and was among the company’s top executives. He worked extensively in Africa and Libya in particular, spearheading SNC’s involvement in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects in that country, including a massive water diversion, a new airport and construction of a prison. He also played a role in an SNC project with Saadi Gadhafi to create the Libyan Corps of Engineers, a military and civilian unit that fell under Mr. Gadhafi’s direct supervision. The unit was one of many close ties SNC cultivated with the Gadhafi family during the company’s many years in Libya.
There have also been reports that Mr. Ben Aissa helped a Canadian security specialist fly to Tripoli to assist Saadi Gadhafi during the height of the insurrection last year.
Mr. Roy had recently been connected to a plot to help Saadi Gadhafi and his family escape to Mexico last year. His involvement surfaced after the arrest of Cynthia Vanier in November in Mexico. Mexican authorities have since alleged that Ms. Vanier, who is from Ontario and runs a mediation firm, and three others plotted to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi into Mexico using false passports and other identification. The group had allegedly purchased a home and was also planning to rent a condominium as part of the scheme. Mexican officials allege the group made two attempts to sprit Mr. Gadhafi out of Libya. It is understood Mr. Gadhafi would be interested in Mexico in part because of its proximity to Toronto where he owned a $1.6-million condominium. The property has since been frozen by the Canadian government.
Ms. Vanier has denied the charges and said she was on a business trip to Mexico.
SNC has acknowledged that it hired Ms. Vanier’s firm last summer to report on the security situation in Libya. The company said the work was done to determine if it was safe to return employees who had been evacuated.
The company initially said it had no further involvement with Ms. Vanier but recently reversed course and confirmed that Mr. Roy had been present when Ms. Vanier was arrested in Mexico. SNC said Mr. Roy went to Mexico to discuss water treatment projects with her. He was questioned by police and released without being charged.
Saadi Gadhafi eventually fled to Niger, where he has been granted asylum despite an Interpol warrant for his arrest.