Audit clears Quebec securities watchdog of wrongdoing in SNC-Lavalin probe
The offices of SNC-Lavalin are seen in Montreal in this file photo from March 26, 2012. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
MONTREAL -- Quebec's securities regulator was cleared of conflict of interest allegations Monday following an independent audit in connection with the body's investigation of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.
Mario Bilodeau, appointed by the province in April, says a probe by the Autorite des marches financiers into SNC-Lavalin executives was "adequate" and that his "conclusions invalidate the allegations of public wrongdoing."
The audit was launched following allegations in a Quebec newspaper -- which cited two anonymous former employees of the financial watchdog -- that their colleagues had "closed their eyes" to parts of the probe.
Dubbed Project Falcon, the regulator's investigation examined financial documents and transactions carried out by some SNC-Lavalin managers, including Michael Novak, spouse of former Quebec Liberal justice minister Kathleen Weil, between 2011 and 2012 following suspicions of "possible 1/8accounting 3/8 malpractice and insider trading," Bilodeau said.
The watchdog's senior director of investigations, Frederic Perodeau, was named in the allegations. Media reports say the lawyer by training had provided counsel to SNC-Lavalin between 2010 and 2012, and later oversaw the probe into his previous employer.
A total of 32 people were interviewed as part of Bilodeau's audit, which concluded Perodeau was not in a conflict of interest and that "the Authority can be proud of the way all the professionals have accomplished their tasks and respected their duties."