Former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Sami Bebawi enters a courtroom in Montreal on Friday, February 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Sami Bebawi enters a courtroom in Montreal on Friday, February 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Former SNC-Lavalin executive has obstruction charge dropped

Excessive delays leads to charges being dropped

A former SNC-Lavalin executive and his lawyer had obstruction of justice charges against them stayed Friday on the grounds it took too long to bring the case to trial.

Sami Bebawi, a former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president, and his Montreal-based tax lawyer, Constantine Kyres, had been accused of offering a $10-million bribe to have a key witness change his testimony in a fraud and corruption case against Bebawi.

The alleged recipient of the offer was Riadh Ben Aissa, another former SNC-Lavalin executive, who was detained in Switzerland at the time on charges of corrupting officials in Libya on behalf of the Canadian engineering firm.

After Bebawi found out he was being investigated, he allegedly asked Kyres to travel to Switzerland and offer to pay off Ben Aissa, Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer Court wrote in a summary of the obstruction case. In exchange, Bebawi wanted Ben Aissa to offer authorities a version of events that would exonerate him.

Bebawi and Kyres were charged with obstruction of justice in 2014. A stay of proceedings was issued in February 2018 after evidence was ruled inadmissible, but the charges were reinstated by direct indictment last May. The trial had not begun, and it would have been more than 60 months after charges were laid before it concluded.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet move due to departure from team: Trudeau

The defendants invoked the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2016 Jordan decision, which set limits on how long a criminal cases can take, and Cournoyer agreed. The judge said Crown prosecutors did not show that the delays in the case were reasonable.

Cournoyer wrote that even after the Jordan ruling, the case against Bebawi and Kyres “remained forgotten” for more than 11 months.

“The prosecutors … were unable to explain what happened in the year that followed the Jordan decision,” Cournoyer wrote. “The file seemed to have been abandoned like a ship without a captain that is drifting slowly, but inexorably, towards a reef.”

Bebawi is still facing charges including fraud and bribery of a public official in relation to SNC-Lavalin’s dealings with the regime of the late Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi. The trial is upcoming. Ben Aissa has given statements to authorities implicating Bebawi in the Libyan bribery scheme, Cournoyer wrote.

When asked as he left the courthouse how he felt about having one case completed with one to go, Bebawi crossed his arms over his chest and said: “It’s crazy, it’s crazy, it’s crazy.”

The remaining case against Bebawi stems from the same Project Assistance investigation that led to charges against SNC-Lavalin in 2015. Those charges continue to fuel controversy in Ottawa following a report that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the company avoid criminal prosecution.

READ MORE: Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet

SNC-Lavalin and two of its subsidiaries were charged with paying nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011 to influence government decisions. The company is also accused of fraud and corruption for allegedly defrauding various Libyan organizations of roughly $130 million.

After Cournoyer’s ruling, Kyres’s lawyer, Frank Pappas, said justice was served. “We won this case about a year ago when a judge decided, a judicial ruling, that the RCMP operation was done illegally,” he told reporters. “Finally, the delays caused by the Crown’s decision and strategies is what sunk their ship.”

Crown prosecutor Benoit Robert said he will analyze the decision before deciding whether to appeal.

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

,,
Abbotsford’s Run For Water transforms into Upstream Challenge for 2021

Throughout the month of May participants can take on a number of different activities in the Valley

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including South Surrey’s Pacific Highway should ‘not be left behind’

Cannabis plants visible under bright lights inside a large facility at Shxwha:y Village on July 6, 2018. The reserve was home to the licensed producer for Indigenous Bloom, which opened up a dispensary on the Kwaw-Kwaw-Apilt reserve. On April 12, 2021, Shxwha:y announced Health Canada approval for a licensed production facility at the village. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack’s Shxwha:y First Nation approved for cannabis cultivation and processing facility

It will be the first majority-owned Indigenous on-reserve licensed facility in Western Canada

The Fraser Valley Bandits chose Brandon University’s Anthony Tsegakele in the first round of the 2021 CEBL Draft. (Submitted)
Fraser Valley Bandits reveal 2021 CEBL Draft choices

Abbotsford-based club selects Quebec’s Anthony Tsegakele in first round

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
UPDATE: 1 of 3 puppies stolen from South Surrey returned to owner

American Bulldog puppy recovered after being sold at Mission car show

Two women walk past ‘The Meeting’ sculptures in White Rock’s Miramar Plaza Wednesday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
New public art in White Rock faces criticism as the ‘two Michaels’ remain in China’s custody

‘I would encourage people to go out and enjoy it’ said Vancouver Biennale founder

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Everett Cummings in a tribute video posted to dignitymemorial.com.
Mechanic’s death at Fraser Surrey Docks leads to $200K fine for company, union says

Photos of rally outside Surrey court posted on ILWU’s ‘Kill A Worker Go To Jail’ Facebook page

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read