Friday , January 22 2021

Ethics Commissioner to investigate the Prime Minister's office over the SNC-Lavalin scandal



Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion will investigate the allegations that the Prime Minister's office was pushing former lawyer Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

NDP asked Dion to investigate the case after Globe and Mail published a report last week claiming that PMO wanted Wilson-Raybould to lead federal prosecutors to make a "Prosecution Agreement" (DPA) – an agreement resembling a plea – Avoid taking SNC-Lavalin for bribery and fraud.

Dion informed members of the National People's Party who requested the study on Monday that there is sufficient reason to continue an investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's actions in this case.

Conservative Party Leaders Andrew Scheer News Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick. 00:00

In a letter to NDP Ethics critic Charlie Angus and his colleague B.C. NDP MP Nathan Cullen, Dion said he would investigate the prime minister personally for a possible violation of the conflict of interest law 9.

That section prohibits any high-level civil servant responsible for government decision-making from attempting to influence another person's decision for "inappropriate additional person's personal interests".

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will address the media about the forthcoming ethical probe at. 3:30 pm ONE. CBCNews.ca will carry their comments live.

Jagmeet Singh comments on news that the Federal Ethics Commissioner has accepted an NDP request to initiate an independent investigation into alleged preferential treatment. President Justin Trudeau's office gave SNC-Lavalin 00:00

Trudeau speaks

Speaking to journalists following a housing finance announcement in B.C., Trudeau said he "welcomed" the ethical commissioner's investigation into the allegations.

"This is a problem that has been widely spoken over the last few days and I think it's important that Canadians continue to trust our system," Trudeau said.

PM Justin Trudeau says he and former Justice Jodi Wilson-Raybould have spoken a few times since arriving at B.C. yesterday, and confirmed that they were previously talking about cases that the director of public affairs was her alone. 02:33

The prime minister again insisted on Monday that he had not addressed Wilson-Raybould to come to a conclusion on whether to direct the Public Prosecutor in Canada (PPSC) to sign an agreement with SNC-Lavalin.

"She confirmed to me a conversation we had in the fall where I told her directly that all decisions on public prosecution cases were her alone," Trudeau said.

Wilson-Raybould has been tight throughout the case. In a statement released Friday, she said she could not comment because she is bound by lawyer-client privilege.

"I respect her belief that because of privilege she cannot comment or add to recent cases in the media. I also emphasize that we are bound by professional secrecy. In our management system, her presence in cabinet must speak for herself," said Trudeau. "I still have full confidence in Jody."

Shuffled from the high-profile justice portfolio, Wilson-Raybould currently serves as Minister of Veterans Affairs.

When asked if he would consider renouncing the lawyer's privilege to allow his former Justice Minister to speak publicly, Trudeau said he had asked the current Attorney General and Attorney General David Lametti to drop to replace Wilson-Raybould after that she was mixed to advise on the matter.

He said lawyer-client privilege is "not a simple question."

Lametti said on Monday that he would not comment on the case because, as the government's lawyer, he did not want to influence ongoing litigation.

Lawyer General is the crown's top lawyer and nominally represents the government in all its prosecutions.

"The Ethics Commissioner has an independent status for these kinds of inquiries and I have no comments on it," Lametti told reporters after a speech at the Canadian Bar Association in Ottawa.

SNC-Lavalin has been accused of fraud and corruption for payments of nearly $ 48 million to public officials in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi's government and allegations of defrauding Libyan organizations at about $ 100 million. $ 130 million.

The company disputes the case and has alleged guilty. The case is at the initial consultation stage.

If convicted, the company could be blocked from competing for federal government contracts for a decade.

Postponed prosecution agreements

The federal liberal government introduced deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) – like the one sought by SNC-Lavalin – through a section buried in its latest budget line.

Both the US and the US have similar DPA schemes that allow out-of-court settlements of criminal charges against businesses.

The government proclaimed DPA is a measure that could improve compliance and corporate culture while allowing prosecutors more flexibility "to ensure effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for corporate offenses."

"The prospect of being invited to negotiate a DPA can motivate companies to independently report misdemeanors, as they might otherwise face the prospect of a formal sentence, either as a result of a guilty plea or after a trial," a state backgrounder on the question says.

"Provided the company complies with its terms, DPA will allow the company to focus its attention and resources on doing business for the benefit of investors, employees, and other third parties."

The government acknowledged that DPA could be more beneficial for large companies who could "buy their way out of trouble by paying a financial penalty and transferring the cost to the consumer."


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