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Swiss phone tap snared SNC-Lavalin

A Canadian police affidavit released Wednesday said Swiss authorities were investigating allegations of bribery in the Middle East when they overheard a remark about bribes in Canada, according to the Montreal Gazette.

Swiss police were listening to Riadh Ben Aïssa, then chief of SNC-Lavalin’s construction unit, when they heard him say ‘there were things to be paid in Canada for the hospital,’ the Gazette said.

He was allegedly talking about brides to secure the $1.3 billion super-hospital project being developed by Montreal’s McGill University Health Center.

The Swiss revealed the wiretap to Canadian police last July.

Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin allegedly paid $22 million in kickbacks, including payments to Arthur Porter, chief of the McGill health center, and Yanaï Elbaz, its former planning director.

The newly revealed police affidavit said Porter began ‘to receive payments from a firm called Regent Hamilton Lumley & Associates . . . By September 2011, those payments totalled more than $2.3 million,’ according to the Gazette’s report.

Elbaz allegedly received $4 million, paid to his personal accounts in Switzerland.

Porter and his wife were arrested last month in Panama at the request of Canadian police. He’s ‘fighting extradition to Canada from a Panamanian jail,’ the Gazette said. His wife, Pamela Mattock Porter, didn’t fight extradition and is being held in Canada. She’s charged with fraud and money laundering.

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