Published: November 29, 2019
Former SNC-Lavalin executive Sami Bebawi expressed his frustration earlier this year over how former CEO Jacques Lamarre has publicly washed his hands of the firm’s decision to buy a $25-million luxury yacht for Saadi Gadhafi.
Testifying at Bebawi’s fraud and corruption trial Friday morning, RCMP officer Alexandre Beaulieu recalled a conversation he had with Bebawi in a courthouse hallway in April.
“Christ,” Beaulieu said Bebawi told him of Lamarre. “He knew about it, he approved it.”
Beaulieu said Bebawi was reacting to Lamarre denying any knowledge of the transaction in the media.
He said Bebawi then told him he learned of the plan to purchase the boat from former executive Riadh Ben Aissa, the firm’s point man in Libya, but that Bebawi didn’t want to approve it so he sent it up the chain to Lamarre.
“He told me he told (management) it was a mistake and that they shouldn’t have done it,” Beaulieu said. “He told me there was even a second boat because the first one wasn’t big enough. But that was sarcasm.”
Bebawi, 73, faces charges of fraud and bribing a foreign public official. The Crown argues he pocketed more than $26 million through the firm’s Libya dealings.
The trial has heard how the firm purchased the yacht for Saadi Gadhafi, son of former dictator Moammar Ghadafi, as a kickback for helping it obtain lucrative contracts in Libya.
Friday was not the first time Lamarre has been connected to the purchase during the trial.
During his testimony, Ben Aissa said when he informed Bebawi about the request, he was told Bebawi needed to run it by Lamarre first.
Bebawi called back and said that Lamarre had approved the purchase, Ben Aissa said.
“He said Lamarre was in agreement,” he testified.
Later, Paul Beaudry, a former vice-president in charge of finances at the firm’s Socodec division, told jurors Lamarre called him while the trial was ongoing to again deny authorizing the purchase.
Beaudry added Lamarre offered to send him testimony he gave authorities in Switzerland so he could read it before taking the stand.
“I refused because I didn’t want it to taint my testimony,” Beaudry said.
This report will be updated.