Sami Bebawi, a former vice-president of SNC-Lavalin, was given 48 hours to report to prison on Monday after his appeal of his 2019 conviction was denied. Bebawi had been found guilty of bribing foreign officials, including the son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and pocketing millions of dollars. He had argued that evidence gathered through an RCMP undercover operation targeting his former lawyer should not have been admitted. However, the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge that while police should have obtained judicial authorization earlier in their investigation, the evidence collected was admissible.
The Appeal Court also rejected Bebawi’s argument that some of the acts for which he was convicted shouldn’t have been considered fraud because he didn’t put his victim’s financial interests at risk. The court highlighted the “colossal” kickbacks that Bebawi paid to Saadi Gadhafi, which included $40 million in cash and two yachts worth a total of $37 million. The court stated that these fictitious price increases could have led to economic prejudice or, at least, a risk of economic prejudice, which would jeopardize the pecuniary interests of the other contracting parties.
In addition to his conviction, Bebawi was also ordered to pay a $24.69-million fine, in addition to $4 million that was already confiscated, or face an additional 10 years in prison. Bebawi asked for a delay to pay the fine until 10 years after he is released from prison and for the penalty for nonpayment to be reduced to five years in prison. The Appeal Court granted Bebawi two years from Tuesday’s ruling to pay.