Deferred Prosecution Agreement Snc-Lavalin

The Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) is a legal tool that allows companies to avoid prosecution by agreeing to cooperate with authorities and implement changes to their business practices. SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian engineering and construction company, was involved in a high-profile case in 2019 that brought the use of DPAs into the spotlight.

The SNC-Lavalin scandal involved allegations that the company had engaged in bribery and corruption in relation to projects in Libya. In 2015, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) charged the company and two of its subsidiaries with fraud and corruption. The charges carried a potential penalty of a ten-year ban on bidding for federal contracts.

In 2016, however, the Canadian government amended the Criminal Code to allow for the use of DPAs. SNC-Lavalin then sought to negotiate a DPA with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC). The company argued that a conviction would have devastating consequences for its business and employees, and that a DPA would enable it to take responsibility for past wrongdoing and move forward with an improved compliance framework.

The PPSC ultimately declined to offer SNC-Lavalin a DPA, and the case went to trial. In February 2019, the company was found guilty of one count of fraud and sentenced to pay a fine of $280 million. The verdict was seen as a blow to the use of DPAs in Canada, as it suggested that prosecutors would be less likely to offer them in the future.

The case also had political implications, as it emerged that the Canadian government had come under pressure from SNC-Lavalin to intervene in the case and allow for a DPA. The controversy led to the resignation of several government officials, including Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The SNC-Lavalin case demonstrates the complexities and controversies of DPAs, which are increasingly being used in countries such as the UK and the US as a means of addressing corporate wrongdoing. Supporters argue that they encourage greater cooperation and accountability, while opponents argue that they let companies off too lightly and undermine the rule of law. As the use of DPAs continues to grow, their impact on business and society will continue to be closely scrutinized.