Trudeau denies corruption case wrongdoing

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the mediaImage copyright
AFP

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under pressure for his handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied wrongdoing after he tried to shield one of the country’s biggest firms from a corruption trial.

Mr Trudeau said any lobbying by him or his inner circle for engineering giant SNC-Lavalin was done to protect jobs.

In explosive testimony, ex-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said she faced “sustained” pressure to abandon prosecution of the Quebec-based firm.

Opposition Conservatives are calling on Mr Trudeau to resign.

They are also demanding a public inquiry following Ms Wilson-Raybould’s testimony on Wednesday before the Commons justice committee in Ottawa.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday morning, Mr Trudeau said he disagreed with her “characterisation” of events and maintained his staff followed the rules.

Speaking to journalists in Montreal on Thursday, the prime minster said he had full confidence in an inquiry by a parliamentary justice committee into the affair and in an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner, and would “participate fully” in that process.

Ms Wilson-Raybould told the justice committee on Wednesday she faced had attempts at interference and “veiled threats” from top government officials seeking a legal favour for the Montreal construction firm.

The former justice minister and attorney general said she and her staff faced four months of a “sustained” and “inappropriate effort” to push for a possible deferred prosecution agreement for the construction company.

That agreement would have allowed the firm to avoid a criminal trial and instead agree to alternative terms or conditions, like penalties or enhanced compliance measures.

SNC-Lavalin is one of the world’s largest engineering and construction companies and employs some 9,000 people in Canada.

A conviction on fraud and corruption charges could result in a decade-long ban on bidding on federal contracts, which would be a major financial hit for the firm.

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