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Final instructions in the jury trial of ex-SNC boss

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MONTREAL—Jurors received final instructions yesterday in the corruption trial of a former SNC-Lavalin executive.

Sami Bebawi, 73, has pleaded not guilty to five charges that include fraud, corruption of foreign officials and laundering proceeds of crime.

The Quebec Superior Court judge presiding over the trial began his charge to the jury late in the afternoon, with deliberations expected to start Thursday.

The Crown has alleged that Bebawi was the architect of a scheme to grease the wheels in Libya in order to secure lucrative deals.

Prosecutors have argued the Montreal engineering giant transferred about $113 million to shell companies used to pay off people who helped the company collect and secure deals in Libya beginning in the late 1990s.

What remained in the accounts of those firms after the kickbacks were paid was then allegedly split between Bebawi and Riadh Ben Aissa, a former colleague, with Bebawi allegedly pocketing $26 million.

The trial looked at several major infrastructure projects and centred on dealings with Saadi Gadhafi, one of the sons of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, to facilitate deals.

The defence argued that the amounts transferred to Bebawi's accounts were bonuses authorized by the SNC-Lavalin's ex-president, Jacques Lamarre, for the successful completion of complicated contracts in Libya.

Bebawi's lawyer argued that the Crown's key witness in the case, Ben Aissa, was unreliable and that there was no evidence any of the contracts secured in Libya were inflated.

The defence also disagreed that the younger Gadhafi was a foreign public official, describing him instead as a “spoiled child” who had a direct line to the late dictator but no real power or authority.

Bebawi did not testify or present a defence-at which was his right as it was up to the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, Justice Guy Cournoyer told jurors.

The trial has been sitting for six weeks.

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