Cloak and dagger intrigue took centre stage in a recent management shake-up at Canadian infrastructure developer SNC-Lavalin.
The Montreal, Quebec construction and engineering firm said Charles Chebl has been named executive vice president of its infrastructure business – which builds and manages infrastructure projects across the world, such as Toronto’s 407 highway concession – following the ouster of executive vice president for infrastructure Riadh Ben Aissa and vice president controller Stephane Roy.
SNC-Lavalin said Ben Aissa and Roy had been fired for running afoul of ethical conduct, without explaining why. A voicemail message left with an SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman was not returned.
A recent report by CBC News tied Roy to Cynthia Vanier – a consultant he had hired to do fact finding work for the firm – who was arrested in Mexico in connection with an alleged plot to help smuggle Saadi el-Qaddafi, son of deceased Muammar el-Qaddafi, the long time Libyan dictator, into the Latin American country. In its report, the Canadian media outlet also raised questions about the Ben Aissa-led infrastructure unit's business conduct in Libya.
Ben Aissa, meanwhile, has gone on the offensive against his erstwhile employer. The fired executive issued a press release to “set the record straight,” claiming he made a “decision to resign”. In his statement, he went on to claim he “spared no effort” to protect SNC-Lavalin in its international business dealings. As leader of SNC-Lavalin’s infrastructure business, Ben Aissa managed more than 10,000 employees worldwide. He had been with the company for 27 years.
“Therefore, Mr. Ben Aissa, has decided to undertake the appropriate legal recourse against SNC-Lavalin in order to set the record straight and re-establish his reputation,” his press release read.
This is not the first time SNC-Lavalin has found itself embroiled in controversy. Last September, Canadian authorities raided the firm’s offices outside Toronto as part of an investigation regarding bidding practices on a Bangladeshi bridge project in which SNC-Lavalin had been involved.
Saadi el-Qaddafi is the third son of Muammar el-Qaddafi. He was a military commander and was involved in the Libya civil war. Interpol is attempting to arrest him. He is also a businessman and a former soccer player.