'Accountability achieved' in SNC-Lavalin affair, Wilson-Raybould says
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, April 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Jim Bronskill and Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, December 18, 2019 1:56PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 18, 2019 3:12PM EST
OTTAWA - Jody Wilson-Raybould says the justice system has done its work, the rule of law is being upheld and it is time for SNC-Lavalin to look to its future.
In a series of tweets, the former Liberal cabinet minister at the centre of the SNC-Lavalin affair said accountability was ultimately achieved by the court settlement unveiled Wednesday.
The Montreal-based engineering firm has been caught up in a political storm since February, when the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that prime ministerial aides leaned on Wilson-Raybould, 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 issue dates back to 2015, when 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.
Under the agreement made public Wednesday, SNC-Lavalin Construction pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud over $5,000, will pay a $280-million penalty and will be subject to a three-year probation order. The remaining charges were stayed.
SNC-Lavalin said while the guilty plea might present some immediate risks, it is not expected to hinder the company's long-term business prospects at home or abroad.
Wilson-Raybould, whose concerns about undue pressure to intervene on SNC's behalf rocked the Liberal government, won re-election in her Vancouver riding as an Independent in October.
“I have long believed in the essential necessity of our judicial system operating as it should - based on the rule of law and prosecutorial independence, and without political interference or pressure,” she tweeted Wednesday.
“Ultimately, that system was able to do its work - as democracy and good governance requires - and an outcome was reached today. Accountability was achieved.
“I am glad to see it end with that principle being upheld. The justice system did its work. It is time to move forward and for the company to look to its future.”
Director of public prosecutions Kathleen Roussel thanked her team for its dedicated work on a challenging case “in the face of unprecedented public attention.”
David Lametti, who succeeded Wilson-Raybould as attorney general and justice minister, was not involved in the settlement negotiations, said Crown prosecutor Richard Roy.
In a statement, Lametti said Roussel advised him of the agreement Tuesday, as she is required to do by law in ongoing matters she deems to be of general interest.
“This decision was made independently by the (prosecution service), as part of their responsibility to continually assess and determine the appropriate path for cases under their jurisdiction,” he said.
“Canadians can have confidence that our judicial and legal systems are working as they should.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2019.