A former SNC-Lavalin executive that worked under Riadh Ben Aissa, the construction division boss at the centre of the alleged illicit payments scandal, is suing the engineering firm for wrongful dismissal, stating that he "always acted on (SNC's) orders."
SNC-Lavalin fired Stéphane Roy, vice-president and controller of its construction division, almost a year ago to the day along with his superior, Mr. Ben Aissa.
Mr. Ben Aissa is currently detained by Swiss authorities, who suspect he laundered tens of millions of dollars and bribed public officials in North Africa. In Canada, in a separate case, he is accused of defrauding the McGill University Health Centre in relation to the construction of its new super-hospital.
Mr. Roy, however, has never been charged. But the RCMP suspect he took part in a scheme to extract Saadi Gadhafi and his family from Libya during that country's revolution in 2011, according to a search warrant that was recently unsealed. Police believe he conspired with others to smuggle the third son of the late Libyan dictator to Mexico. None of these allegations have been tested in court.
In his lawsuit in Quebec's Superior Court, Mr. Roy states that SNC-Lavalin created a "corporate culture where it was common practice to do everything that was necessary including the payment of 'commissions' and other benefits to obtain contracts, including in Libya."
SNC-Lavalin's top level executives, he goes on to claim, "had made it known to him that he had to follow their orders to satisfy their expectations." Mr. Roy states he did what he was asked to do "according to the morals and the requirements" of the Montreal-based company.
Mr. Roy believes he was made to be a "scapegoat" when he was fired with cause in February 2012 and that SNC tarnished his reputation when the firm described him as a "rogue executive." He is claiming more than $930,000 from SNC in lost salary and benefits as well as moral damages. Mr. Roy is also asking for the return or the payment of his SNC shares that are held in the company stock option plan, which were worth over $270,000 when he claimed them unsuccessfully last September.
SNC-Lavalin stands by its decision to fire its former controller, its senior vice-president for global corporate communications, Leslie Quinton, wrote in an e-mail.
"Mr. Roy was terminated with cause for actions that were considered unacceptable and outside the scope of his official duties for the company," Ms. Quinton stated before adding that SNC intends to vigorously defend its interests.