I read this article from the Canadian Press with interest today as many points cited by Judge Cournoyer were ones my husband and I made at a recent dinner party with friends.
Although bribery of foreign public officials is sometimes seen as a necessary step in obtaining contracts in some countries,” Cournoyer said, that does not justify Bebawi’s conduct.
All Canadian companies and their executives are required to comply with Canadian laws prohibiting the fraud and corruption of public officials,” he continued. “Canada is a state of law. Its laws must be respectedthe Canadian Press
Last month a jury found the (former) head of SNC-Lavalin’s construction division guilty of charges of paying kickbacks to foreign officials while trying to secure contracts for the company. These shady dealings began way back in the late 90s. Bribery deals included those made with the son of (late) Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Not to mention the millions of dollars Bebawi kept for himself. Bebawi was also accused of attempting to coerce (with money of course) an employee to change his testimony to avoid prosecution.
The debate at this dinner party was whether or not the actions of the senior executives of SNC Lavalin were acceptable business dealings. The argument (from a businessman, who recently retired from a government position) was that this kind of business happens all the time. His argument was that to be competitive Canadian executives have to use such tactics.
Our argument was that Canadian laws are instated for a reason and should be adhered to. If we want to be respected globally we should never pursue such fraudulent, dishonest, and disrespectful actions. To do so only lowers Canada and Canadians to the lower level of many third-world countries that flaunt their lawlessness.
Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately as the discussion was getting heated) we were outnumbered in our convictions, so the conversation turned to other topics.
Although 8.5 years in prison seems like a light punishment to me, I was glad to see our personal convictions echoed in this judgment.