The prime minister of Québec, François Legault, said he wanted the federal government to come to an agreement “as early as possible”, with the engineering firm SNC-Lavalin in order to protect the jobs and the headquarters of the company in Montreal.
The struggling company is vulnerable to a takeover, foreign, said Mr. Legault to reporters Thursday in Quebec city. And most of its legal problems will continue to exist, the more it is likely to be the prey of another company, he argued.
Mr. Legault has said to believe that it was necessary to do everything possible “to protect this headquarters and the thousands of good paying jobs that we have to SNC-Lavalin”.
The company has lobbied the federal government for a repair agreement to avoid a criminal case on charges of corruption and fraud related to his efforts to obtain contracts from the government in Libya.
Under a repair agreement, the prosecution would be abandoned in exchange for a recognition by SNC-Lavalin from its wrongdoing and the payment of a fine. The newspaper “the Globe and Mail” reported last week that the office of the prime minister Justin Trudeau had been pressuring the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to accept such an agreement.
Mr. Legault argued that SNC-Lavalin should pay for his alleged crimes, but that its employees and the province’s economy should not suffer.
“We know that SNC-Lavalin, she has not complied with the rules – in Libya in particular – and it must pay for it, in particular the people who were involved, he said. SNC-Lavalin, I met the president, they are willing to put on the table of the amounts of very high penalties.”
Without an agreement, he added, the case could extend over years and SNC-Lavalin’s business would suffer as a result.
SNC-Lavalin has seen its credit rating to be lowered on Wednesday by Standard & Poor s. The agency had cited the accusations against the giant engineering and construction, and a prohibition for ten years in bidding on federal contracts that would accompany a conviction among its reasons for downgrading.
Mr. Legault has said that they believe the difficulties in the justice business are bad for the province. “At the present time, there is no controlling shareholder, so there is a real risk that this company is bought by someone, for example in the United Kingdom. For me, this would be a bad news for the province”, he argued.
Mr. Legault was said to have asked prime minister Trudeau during a discussion: “Can you adjust as quickly as possible to keep these jobs? We have a need for it.”
To add to the storm in which SNC-Lavalin is found, we learned this week that prosecutors in Quebec are working with the RCMP on the possibility of new criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin, in connection with the contract for rehabilitation work on the Jacques-Cartier bridge in Montreal.
While Mr. Legault had a lot to say about the charges federal, he refrained from commenting on the allegations of the province. “I have no intention of doing anything with what is happening in the jurisdiction of Quebec,” he said.