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SNC-Lavalin sues former CEO for millions over hospital bribery scandal

MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is suing its former CEO in connection with a bribery scandal around the construction of a $1.3-billion Montreal hospital.

The beleaguered engineering and construction giant says in court documents that Pierre Duhaime hurt the company when he helped a public servant commit a breach of trust tied to $22.5-million in bribes that helped secure the McGill University Health Centre project for SNC-Lavalin.

Duhaime, who led the Montreal-based company between 2009 and 2012, is currently serving 20 months of house arrest after pleading guilty to the criminal charge last month.

The documents, filed in Quebec Superior Court on Friday, also say Duhaime acted “in bad faith” when he signed a retirement agreement without disclosing his “criminal wrongdoing.” The agreement saw the company cover Duhaime’s $1.17 million in legal costs during his trial and dole out more than $1 million so far as part of a larger retirement package, all money that SNC-Lavalin wants back.

The company is demanding Duhaime and other defendants — whose lawsuit he’s been tacked on to — repay the $22.5 million in bribes and pony up $17.5 million in punitive damages and compensation for reputational harm.

The lawsuit is unrelated to the corruption charges linked to SNC-Lavalin’s dealings in Libya that have thrown the company into the eye of a political firestorm in Ottawa.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC)

The Canadian Press