Two embattled SNC-Lavalin veterans allegedly discussed a common version of events one would pay the other to provide to law-enforcement authorities, but the lawyers involved in the discussions did not engage in obstruction of justice or extortion, a defence lawyer said.
After conducting an undercover operation, the RCMP announced last week that it was charging a prominent Montreal tax lawyer, Constantine Kyres, with extortion and obstruction of justice. In addition, the Mounties charged former SNC executive Sami Bebawi with obstruction of justice.
But Mr. Kyres's lawyer, Frank Pappas, said that two other senior criminal lawyers in Toronto and Montreal were involved in the discussion and are not facing any charges.
"All three of them worked hand-in-hand in this file, throughout the whole process, and Kyres never did anything without consulting," Mr. Pappas said in an interview, refusing to provide the names of the other two "seasoned professionals."
"I don't understand how [Mr. Kyres] is the only guy that is being singled out in all of this," he said.
The RCMP allege that Mr. Kyres was part of an alleged plot to pay to obtain a statement from Riadh Ben Aissa, another former senior executive at SNC and one of the central characters in the corporate bribery scandal that has shaken the Montreal-based engineering giant.
Mr. Pappas said that the statement obtained from Mr. Ben Aissa as a result of the discussions was forwarded to the RCMP, which he says demonstrates that the lawyers believed they were not involved in underhanded tactics.
"All three attorneys believed in Mr. Bebawi's version," he said. "They were trying to get [Mr. Ben Aissa] to admit to the truth."
Mr. Pappas added that the financial transfer that was discussed was "money that was already owed to Ben Aissa by Bebawi. It's not like Ben Aissa was to benefit in away from anything."
Mr. Pappas refused to discuss the RCMP's use of undercover officers, saying he was reserving his comments "for the court."
Mr. Kyres is scheduled to be arraigned in court on Thursday. Mr. Bebawi is currently not in Canada. Warrants for his arrest have been issued both for the charge laid last week and a previous set of charges – which include fraud, money laundering and bribing a foreign official – laid in January.
Mr. Kyres was drawn into the RCMP's investigation after the April, 2012, arrest of Mr. Ben Aissa in Switzerland, sources with knowledge of the investigation told The Globe and Mail. Mr. Ben Aissa and Mr. Bebawi have been identified by authorities in court documents as co-conspirators in a plot to both bribe Saadi Gadhafi, the son of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and defraud SNC of tens of millions of dollars – money that flowed through Swiss bank accounts.
While Mr. Ben Aissa was in custody, the two former SNC executives were able to connect through third parties. One of Mr. Bebawi's representatives was Mr. Kyres; Mr. Ben Aissa's intermediary was an undercover police officer, sources said.
According to Mr. Kyres's website, he launched his own law practice in January of this year, after having headed the tax group at the Montreal office of Dentons Canada LLP.