Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unduly pressured the then Attorney General to desist from criminally accusing a company in a case of conflict of interests, the Canadian ethics commissioner announced Wednesday.
The report was published when the campaign for the general election of October 21 is about to begin officially and threatens to rekindle a scandal that stirred the government a few months ago, causing it to fall into popularity polls.
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said Trudeau's attempts to influence the attorney and justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, violated the constitutional principle of the prosecutor's independence.
"The prime minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to influence Miss Wilson-Raybould," Dion wrote.
"The authority of the prime minister and his office was used to elude, undermine and, over time, attempt to discredit the decision of the director of public accusations, as well as the authority of Miss Wilson-Raybould."
Wilson-Raybould believes she was demoted because she did not give in to pressure to reach a remediation agreement with a Canadian company accused of bribing officials in Libya.
That solution would avoid a possible criminal conviction that would ban the large engineering company SNC-Lavalin from obtaining government contracts. The Quebec-based company is a major employer with more than 9,000 employees in Canada and about 50,000 worldwide.
The report says that Trudeau "directed his staff to find a solution that would protect SNC-Lavalin's business interests in Canada."
The scandal sparked several resignations, including that of Gerry Butts, Trudeau's chief advisor and best friend, and damaged the game for weeks.
The damage calmed down the months that followed, but the ethics report could rekindle the controversy at an inopportune time for Trudeau.
A spokesman for the prime minister said he would publish a statement and then answer questions.