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UPDATE 1-Canada judge rules SNC Lavalin corruption case can go to trial

(Adds comment from SNC Lavalin)

MONTREAL, May 29 (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday ruled there is enough evidence to send an SNC-Lavalin corruption case to trial, as expected, following efforts by the Canadian construction company to reach a settlement that led to a political scandal engulfing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Montreal-based construction and engineering company said in a statement that it will vigorously defend itself and plead not guilty to the charges. SNC-Lavalin is facing fraud and corruption charges related to allegations that former executives paid bribes to win contracts in Libya under Muammar Gaddafis regime, which fell in 2011.

The company has previously said it is looking at ways to protect its business in the event it loses the case.

"Given the threshold to be met by the prosecution at the stage of the preliminary inquiry, this outcome was expected," said SNC-Lavalin Chief Executive Neil Bruce in a statement.

"SNC-Lavalin is a completely transformed company. These charges relate to alleged wrongdoings that took place seven to 20 years ago by certain former employees who left the company long ago."

SNC's stock was down 4.8 percent in morning trading.

(Reporting by Allison Lampert; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)