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SNC-Lavalin Takes Its Pouting To The People With “An Open Letter To Canadians”

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These pages have long covered SNC-Lavalin’s pouting upon being criminally charged by Canadian authorities for alleged improper payments to Libyan officials. (See here and here for prior posts).

Yesterday, the company’s pout fest continued with this extraordinary “open letter to Canadians” along with two feel-good videos.

The open letter from Neil Bruce (President and Chief Executive Officer) states in full:


As the President and Chief Executive Officer of SNC-Lavalin, a fiercely proud Canadian company and one of the world’s leading engineering and project management firms, I want to address recent developments that may impact businesses, employees and Canadians alike.

The truth is, the events prior to 2012 that led to the federal charges should have never taken place. They did, however, result in fundamental cultural, governance, and leadership changes. The management team at SNC-Lavalin is entirely new, and I apologize to all for the shortcomings during that period. In the years since, we have worked tirelessly to achieve excellence in governance and integrity because we want to regain the confidence of all our stakeholders and employees, and mostly that of all Canadians.


Since our humble beginnings in 1911, SNC-Lavalin has been a part of Canada’s growth and progress, delivering some of Canada’s iconic and inspirational engineering projects.

With 107 offices across the country, we are Canada’s largest engineering firm and a top 3 international design firm. We’re honoured to be a key contributor to job creation and economic growth; and we would like to continue to do so.


Manic-5 dam in Quebec

Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario

Husky Lloydminster Refinery in Alberta

Vancouver Sky Train in British Columbia

Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) in Montreal

Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown

Ottawa’s Confederation Line


To level the playing field for Canadian companies, particularly with international operations, the Government of Canada recently passed an important law— the remediation agreement regime. This law is notably designed to protect a company’s employees, customers, pensioners and other innocent stakeholders who did nothing wrong, from the effects of a potential criminal conviction of the corporation while ensuring that those individuals responsible for wrongdoing are held accountable. While we had hoped that this new law would permit us to put this long journey behind us, we remain open and committed to negotiating such an agreement in the interest of our 52,000 employees.

Currently, we face a situation where only one of the individuals responsible for the alleged actions, and who left the company more than 7 years ago, has been charged.


This situation could happen to any Canadian firm trying to seek settlement discussion in such circumstances. It is not just about the enormous impact on a Canadian company and all the innocent people dependent on it, including 9,000 Canadian employees, as well as Canadian pensioners, clients and investors. It is not just about numerous business partners, many of which are Canadian small business owners, who form the very backbone of the country’s economy. It is not just about the 10,000 employees across Canada that through no fault of their own left our firm since 2012 due to the uncertainty, while our global employee base has doubled in size. This debate is about what is right for this country.


Our people will continue to do what they do best—deliver great engineering projects every day while bringing value to clients, employees, pensioners, and all Canadians, with industry-leading engineering and project management services.

We will continue our work and move forward—to ensure our proud legacy of helping to shape the Canadian landscape, and exporting our skills and knowledge to other parts of the world, to the benefit of all Canadians.”

When I predicted a global facade of enforcement of bribery and corruption laws in my 2010 article “The Facade of FCPA Enforcement,” I would have considered it far-fetched for the CEO of a company under scrutiny to pen an open letter to all citizens of a country pleading for an alternative resolution vehicle (FYI – Canada’s deferred prosecution agreements are referred to remediation agreements).

But that is precisely what has happened.

It is interesting to note nevertheless that if Canadian law enforcement is persuaded by SNC-Lavalin’s letter, it would seem to be a clear violation of the OECD Convention to which Canada (as well as the U.S. and several other countries) is a signatory. Article 5 (which the U.S. and U.K. has seemingly violated as well in certain enforcement actions) states:

“Investigation and prosecution of the bribery of a foreign public official shall be subject to the applicable rules and principles of each Party. They shall not be influenced by considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another State or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved.”

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