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Former SNC-Lavalin executive reaches deal with Swiss on criminal charges

MONTREAL - A former executive of SNC-Lavalin has reached a deal on charges stemming from allegations of money laundering, fraud and corruption involving the engineering giant's business in Libya under the Gadhafi regime.

Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the Swiss attorney-general's office, says Riadh Ben Aissa has agreed with the charges in the indictment against him in her country.

Balmer says in an email the former SNC executive vice-president of construction benefits from the presumption of innocence until the matter is heard by Switzerland's federal court.

She says the deal was reached on Aug. 4.

Authorities alleged Ben Aissa embezzled more than $120 million in funds from SNC-Lavalin.

It is also alleged that Ben Aissa, another former SNC vice-president and a consultant, conspired to use $1.85 million in company funds without permission in an attempt to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi, son of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, to Mexico. The plan was never realized.

Authorities in Canada want Ben Aissa to stand trial on charges of fraud worth an estimated $22.5 million involving the McGill University Health Centre, one of Canada's largest infrastructure projects and valued at $1.3 billion.

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