SNC-Lavalin faces lawsuit from former executive, Stephane Roy

24 February 2013 0 Comments

A former SNC-Lavalin executive who worked with the jailed ex-head of the company's construction division has launched a wrongful dismissal and defamation lawsuit against the firm for nearly CAN$1m.

Stephane Roy said he was made a “scapegoat” and described as a “rogue employee” when he was fired a year ago despite always acting on the company's orders.

The former controller is seeking $930,000 in lost salary and benefits, including $100,000 in moral damages and for ruining his reputation.

He also claims more than $270,000 worth of shares held in a stock option plan as of September when he tried to claim them.

Roy reported directly to Riadh Ben Aissa, who remains in custody in Switzerland on suspicion of laundering millions of dollars and bribing North African public officials.

In Canada, Ben Aissa is also accused, alongside former CEO Pierre Duhaime, with fraud reported to relate to the construction of a new superhospital in Montreal.

Roy has never been charged but has been named in a Canadian national police affidavit as being part of a plot to smuggle former Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi's son, Saadi, and his family into Mexico.

None of the allegations against the former SNC-Lavalin officials has been tested in court.

In his lawsuit Roy claimed that he always acted in good faith and in the best interests of his employer.

He said SNC-Lavalin created “a corporate culture where it was common practice to do all that was necessary, including the payment of ‘commissions’ and other benefits to obtain contracts, including in Libya.”

Roy said he always followed the directives of senior executives, adding that the company made him a scapegoat by claiming to have fired him for just cause.

SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman Leslie Quinton told the Canadian Press news agency that Roy was “terminated for cause in February 2012 for actions that were considered unacceptable and outside the scope of his official duties for the company.”

“The company maintains that this decision was justified and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously,” she said in an email.

SNC-Lavalin also faces class action lawsuits seeking more than $1bn on behalf of disgruntled shareholders in Ontario and Quebec.

SNC-Lavalin’s shares have almost recovered from the hit that wiped out about $2.5bn worth of market value when it initially disclosed last year that an internal investigation uncovered $56m of questionable payments to foreign agents, breaching the company's code of ethics.