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Canadian exec linked to Gaddafi faces fraud charges

Riadh Ben Aissa facing charges in Switzerland for his dealings in North Africa.

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Swiss authorities are holding a former SNC-Lavalin executive in connection with his dealings in North Africa with Muammar Gaddafi. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Riadh Ben Aissa, a former Canadian engineering executive with ties to the Gaddafi regime in Libya, is facing charges in Switzerland for his dealings in North Africa, The Globe and Mail reported.

Swiss authorities announced today that they’ve arrested Aissa for corruption, fraud and money laundering.

The charges come after Canadian police raided SNC-Lavalin’s head office in Montreal.

“It has been confirmed to SNC-Lavalin that its former executive vice-president, Riadh Ben Aissa, has been placed under arrest in Switzerland,” SNC spokeswoman Leslie Quinton told the Globe. “However, we have no knowledge regarding specific details concerning his status.”

Aissa resigned from the company in February, the Toronto Star said.

The company has faced questions over its dealings with government officials across many parts of the world.

Earlier this year, its CEO resigned as well as another executive.

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The Swiss police asked their Canadian counterparts to execute a search warrant at SNC-Lavalin’s headquarters to help with their investigation.

Aissa faces charges of “corruption, fraud and money laundering related to business dealings conducted in North Africa,” Jacqueline Buhlmann of Switzerland’s justice ministry told the Star.

The Swiss have held Aissa, who is originally from Tunisia, since mid-April, CBC confirmed.

He’s said to have helped SNC-Lavalin win billions worth of contracts in Libya, and was linked to Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saadi.

However, the Swiss authorities have not said where Aissa’s alleged crimes are said to have happened, CBC reported.

SNC-Lavalin’s own internal audits found $56 million worth of improper payments made with Aissa’s approval.

“We decided not to issue any comment on the situation,” Frederic Lepage, Aissa’s spokesman, told CBC.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120430/canadian-exec-linked-gaddafi-faces-fraud-charges