EX-SNC senior executive Ben Aissa appears in court on fraud charges

MONTREAL – A former SNC-Lavalin senior executive appeared in court Thursday on fraud-related charges laid in connection with a $1.3-billion superhospital project.

Riadh Ben Aissa, the engineering company’s ex-head of construction, arrived in Montreal on Wednesday after his extradition from Switzerland.

Swiss authorities announced recently they had accepted a deal and sentenced him to the 29 months he’d served in jail on other fraud-related charges. They also ordered him to repay millions of dollars to the company.

In Canada, authorities laid 16 charges against Ben Aissa in February 2013 in connection with the McGill University Health Centre, one of Canada’s largest infrastructure projects.

He and several other people, including former SNC chief executive Pierre Duhaime, allegedly committed fraud of $22.5 million in exchange for the company landing the $1.3-billion contract.

Ben Aissa is set to return to court Monday with some of his co-accused and then have a bail hearing Tuesday.

In Switzerland, Ben Aissa was accused of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The charges stemmed from SNC-Lavalin’s business in Libya. Ben Aissa acknowledged in court that he bribed Saadi Gadhafi, son of Libya’s late dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, so SNC could win contracts. Ben Aissa also admitted to pocketing commissions.