Charbonneau Commission - corruption, criminals, and politicians

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Unionist
Charbonneau Commission - corruption, criminals, and politicians

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Unionist

[url=http://www.cjad.com/CJADLocalNews/entry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10444720]3% kickback went to Montreal mayor's party: Zambito[/url]

Quote:

Quebec's construction inquiry has witnessed its first political bombshells, with a witness testifying Monday about systemic corruption at Montreal city hall and the mayor's political party.

An ex-construction boss says that, for years, three per cent of all the contracts he received from the City of Montreal went to the political party of Mayor Gerald Tremblay.

He says he was informed about the fundraising system by Nicolo Milioto — the same man seen on police surveillance video divvying up piles of cash with the head of the Sicilian Mafia in Canada.

The allegation comes from Lino Zambito, a former construction boss who has become the star witness of the inquiry so far. He has described bid-rigging in the industry during earlier testimony but has only just begun talking about the political world.

Mayor Tremblay just spoke to the media, saying he has no intention of resigning - he'll await the full commission report. Needless to say, both opposition parties are demanding that he quit immediately.

More popcorn, please.

 

lagatta

While I most certainly don't trust Tremblay, how reliable a witness Lino Zambito might be is certainly open to question.

Who needs hockey? Charbonneau commission far more compelling, so far.

There is lots of money, blood and scandal already. Perhaps it needs a sex angle somewhere?

Unionist

Just to be more complete, Zambito testified that he regularly paid 6.5% as follows:

  • 3% to Tremblay's party, Union Montréal
  • 2.5% to the Mafia
  • 1% to an engineer employed by the city.

In other news, La Presse reports that SNC-Lavalin may have paid $22 million in bribes to secure the oversight of the massive McGill superhospital project, now under way.

[OD'ing on popcorn...]

Still need a sex angle, lagatta? I'm quite sure it's on the way.

 

 

lagatta

Yes, the La Presse report ends further credence to Zambito's testimony.

We must not forget that the McGill superhospital project has a further real estate angle, beyond the (very high) construction costs. It also frees up hospitals located at such of the most prime real estate in central Montréal - imagine the Royal Vic!

love is free love is free's picture

yeah, this is sort of nuts.  one of the most interesting things (the video is up on la presse's site right now) is when he says that it wasn't even like a few people in on it, it was known throughout the entire industry by absolutely everyone: this is how business is done in montreal.  also sort of shocking was an anecdote at the end of the day directly tying accurso to vito rizzuto himself.  not bad for a single day.  the mayor better hope that noone from within his circle flips and offers testimony for immunity, at any rate, it seems pretty clear that this won't be as easy to get away with as the visits on yachts business last time around.

it's sort of weird too, like there seems not to be any real outrage about the city, it's as if people are treating this as entertainment, rather than linking it to the chronically terrible infrastructure and endlessly poor public services.

David Young

I am a little curious as to what effect this has on the provincial Liberal Party brand, and might it rub off on the federal Liberals.

How much do you want to bet that the Conservatives are looking at any possible way of tying former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Tom Mulcair to this?

Maybe this will be Rob Anders' next rant!

 

Unionist

love is free wrote:

it's sort of weird too, like there seems not to be any real outrage about the city, it's as if people are treating this as entertainment, rather than linking it to the chronically terrible infrastructure and endlessly poor public services.

Corruption, kickbacks, Mafia, etc. doesn't necessarily add up to poor quality of work. Tongue out

But you're right. No one seems outraged. But didn't we all know about this for ages, just as Zambito says, without perhaps knowing the ugly details?

For example: Do they need a Commission to determine who has controlled the importation of various foodstuffs (think cheese) into Québec for decades? I can save them the time and money.

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

It's time to resurrect "Allo Police", and it's intrepid reporters and photo journalists. No doubt they would have established a sex angle by now-- with pictures!

lagatta

We remember that 30 September marks the 6th anniversary of the viaduc de la Concorde tragedy - five dead and six injured, in Laval.

http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/Montreal/2012/09/30/003-viaduc-concor...

Indeed, the problem is this is "common knowledge". I think outrage will require tying it to specific disasters, or detailing how much this shit is costing everyone, and how it is also risking our lives.

bekayne

autoworker autoworker's picture

Like "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers", The above film should be remade every now and then. Since Arcand is busy shooting his new movie, perhaps "Rejanne" might be revisited as a play. Are there any resident dramaturges up to the task? Who might be cast? Thanks, bekayne.

love is free love is free's picture

three city employees suspended as the mayor and his gang try to get ahead of what could cascade very quickly into major reform.

love is free love is free's picture

a pretty calm day, by recent standards, except the revenue quebec (backed by the surety) raided a number of the offices belonging to quebec's mafia-backed construction titan, tony accurso.

Bärlüer

Oooooohhhh... (/stocking up on popcorn)

Bärlüer

Unionist wrote:

Whatever happened with Serge Ménard's accusation that Guy Vaillancourt (mayor of Laval, whose home is being raided as we speak) offered him cash (cash cash) for his campaign? How do these things just go away quietly??

Pass some of your popcorn, please.

Gilles.

Possibly, in the Ménard case (and the other similar ones), they determined that the testimonial evidence of Ménard, uncorroborated by other evidentiary elements, wouldn't be sufficient to get a conviction.

The current investigation/search apparently pertains to contracts awarded by the city. Contracts -> eventually, material evidence. Material evidence = likey.

There's something so deeply satisfying about this news... It seems to me that rumours about Vaillancourt's, um, turpitude, have circulated for pretty much my whole life...

Bärlüer

BTW, according to the newly updated La Presse story, there are about 70 policemen involved in the operation...

I like the quote about the city employees looking at the operation "with satisfaction"...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Laval City Hall being raided as well with police executing search warrants.

love is free love is free's picture

looks like our friend gladu down in longueuil may have been one of those to have exited once the police threat became too great.  and into the mêlée steps, this week or next, the man himself, vito rizzuto.  with everything going on - not just the charbonneau commission with could lead to a slew of tax evasion charges, but also a slow motion gang war involving dozens of acts of arson targetting his properties, a series of murders (including those of his son, brother-in-law and father) - one wonders is the strongman may not just abscond with his ill-gotten gains.

Bärlüer

This has just entered "holy shit" territory: Radio-Canada journalist Alain Gravel just said on the news that according to his sources, the Laval/Vaillancourt investigation/search targets "large-scale corruption" and what is alleged to be massive transfers of money (read: millions) to a country that is probably Switzerland.

Update: here's the text version of what Gravel said that has been added to the news story's page:

Quote:
Une enquête sur une affaire de corruption massive?

Des sources du journaliste Alain Gravel affirment que l'opération est davantage reliée à une enquête sur une corruption à « grande échelle » plutôt qu'à des stratagèmes de collusion. Les investigations porteraient sur des transferts de sommes pouvant atteindre des millions de dollars, vers la Suisse, pays caractérisé par le secret bancaire. Il serait aussi question d'échanges d'argent. À l'instar de Serge Ménard et de Vincent Auclair (voir plus bas), d'autres personnes auraient déclaré aux enquêteurs avoir reçu ou s'être vu offrir de l'argent par le maire Vaillancourt.

Unionist

Whatever happened with Serge Ménard's accusation that Guy Gilles Vaillancourt (mayor of Laval, whose home is being raided as we speak) offered him cash (cash cash) for his campaign? How do these things just go away quietly??

Pass some of your popcorn, please.

ETA: Whoops, thanks for the correction, Bärlüer. I knew his name was Gilles, but I'm suffering from septic popcorn shock!

autoworker autoworker's picture

Still waiting for the sex angle...

love is free love is free's picture

well, marois is into the ring now, saying that tremblay should probably go and that the province could put montreal under trusteeship if the commission's findings warrant it - which i take to men something to the effect of - if the ruling administration is so saturated with corruption that they're unable to run the city properly, something i doubt we'll find.  though if it did go down that way, it would be pretty amazing.

Unionist

autoworker wrote:
Still waiting for the sex angle...

How about a sextant for measuring angles? Best I could do on short notice.

ETA: Observe the risqué "micrometer screw" above.

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

Does Marios seriously want to assume ownership of a major unknown quantity? Perhaps Montreal's problems warrant their own inquiry.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Unionist wrote:

autoworker wrote:
Still waiting for the sex angle...

How about a sextant for measuring angles? Best I could do on short notice.

ETA: Observe the risqué "micrometer screw" above.

 

Indeed, certain investigations require a delicate instrument and a skilled technician. Alas, the art of approximation is being lost to the precision of today's digital technology. Whither the deft touch of a seasoned hand?

Unionist

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/montreal/Liberal+minister+David+Whis... minister David Whissell denies allegations of illegal fundraising[/url]

Quote:

David Whissell, the former Liberal minister named by Lino Zambito in testimony before the Charbonneau Commission, denies that a Liberal fundraiser asked Zambito for an illegal $50,000 contribution.

Zambito told the commission last week, in testimony only released Tuesday, that Christian Côté, an organizer for Whissell, asked for the contribution in 2007.

“Never, never,” Whissell said in a Radio-Canada radio interview.

Unionist

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebec-cabinet-minister-giv... cabinet minister given flowers, tickets, corruption probe told[/url]

Quote:

“Dear Lino,” the Quebec cabinet minister wrote to construction boss Lino Zambito.

It was 2008, and municipal affairs minister Nathalie Normandeau was thanking Mr. Zambito for an impressive gift: a bouquet of 40 roses for her 40th birthday, which the contractor had sent to her Quebec City office. Judging from the personal note, the minister seemed to appreciate it. “The roses were magnificent,” she wrote by hand. “Forty times thank you.”

 

love is free love is free's picture

i expect tomassi will pop up there pretty shortly and, if we go by unexplained resignations, i'd guess that line beauchamp's name might also figure at some point as well.

autoworker autoworker's picture

A rose is a rose is a rose...

love is free love is free's picture

and here's line beauchamp: http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/dossiers/commission-charbonneau/201210... so her partner at the time, the number 2 at loto-quebec was himself handling envelopes of money, hmm.  i'm guessing there's still more - one thing we know about charest and his gang is that sudden resignations - whissell, beauchamp, normandeau, tomassi sort of - occur for things that are pretty bad, not just slap on the wrist stuff.  i wonder about courchesne too.

also, 2.5% of contracts went directly to the laval mayor, not a bad slice of the action, all told, but certainly not as lucrative as the metro land sales scam, which will surely come up before everything is said and done.  and returning to the montreal level, zambito personally handed over 30 grand in cash to help finance the largest opposition formation's mayoral candidate, benoît labonté.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Is anyone investigating whether any federal infrastructure money has been involved in this corruption? Shouldn't the federal Opposition be asking this question?

Unionist

autoworker wrote:
Is anyone investigating whether any federal infrastructure money has been involved in this corruption? Shouldn't the federal Opposition be asking this question?

Indeed. But that question would have to cover the entire country. So far, the only ongoing investigation I know of (and it took years of protests and demands to get it) is the Charbonneau Commission. Any word on when Ontario's commission will be launched?

 

Unionist

Wow! The next witness is Gilles Surprenant - known as "Monsieur TPS" - the retired city engineer who (according to Lino Zambito) collected a 1% "tax" on sewer contracts!

Note: "TPS" is French for PST, provincial sales tax GST. But in this context, it meant "Monsieur taxe pour Surprenant". French culture is deeply and irrevocably in love with word play. Oh yeah, and "Surprenant" means "surprising", but that's his name, so we can't credit or blame any wag for that.

ETA: Sorry, just noticed my error above and corrected it. I've also added a parenthesis in the first para on the off chance that Lino is lying and Gilles is innocent!

autoworker autoworker's picture

Unionist wrote:

autoworker wrote:
Is anyone investigating whether any federal infrastructure money has been involved in this corruption? Shouldn't the federal Opposition be asking this question?

Indeed. But that question would have to cover the entire country. So far, the only ongoing investigation I know of (and it took years of protests and demands to get it) is the Charbonneau Commission. Any word on when Ontario's commission will be launched?

 

I agree, the question is not exclusive to Quebec.

love is free love is free's picture

well, surprenant has just admitted that he took ~600k in bribes, unlikely when zambito himself (a smaller player) admits to passing 200k his way.  i just can't believe how big this is getting, surprenant has already named frank catania as having corrupted him through intimidation, it'll be very very interesting to see who else he names in the coming days of testimony (accurso for sure, probably rizutto, but what about the mayor?  what about the previous mayor?)

Unionist

Tony Accurso (whose yacht has infamously entertained politicians and union leaders over the years) announced a couple of days ago that he is "leaving business completely" - meaning his $1 billion empire of construction companies counting some 3,500 employees. Mind you, I think he already handed over control of some of his companies to his daughter Lisa a few years ago, when he started facing charges of fraud, bribery, collusion - the trials are still pending.

Meanwhile, raids continue on a daily basis. We'll see how many mayors in the greater Montréal area survive this onslaught.

And I'm still waiting for more dirt on Liberal ministers (and maybe PQ, who knows...). Enough with this municipal small potatoes!

Pass the popcorn.

Unionist

[url=http://www.cjad.com/CJADLocalNews/entry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10453341]Montréal executive committee chair says he is "disgusted" by Gilles Surprenant[/url]

Quote:

Michael Applebaum says that the city will do everything it can to get back some of the 600 thousand dollars Gilles Suprenant admitted to accepting in kickbacks from construction companies.

I wonder who it'll go to next?

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I could use a hundred thousand right away - oh, what the hell, make it two hundred thousand.  :spy

lagatta

Your house probably needs reno work a hell of a lot more than his did... But you have to admit that the ziplock bag was quite the touch. http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/ethan-cox/2012/10/quebec-harper-last-ves...

A bit more up-to-date than the brown paper bag of bribes passed round at Restaurant chez Frank (near my place - now it is a posh yuppie pizzeria called Bottegha).

And of course, we must never forget that this is "our tax money". That is usually a rightwing trope against social spending, but this time it is true. It is theft and can lead to downright dangerous situations.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Oh, I have a whole bunch of ziplock bags here. $10,000.00 each if you're interested. Laughing

Unionist

[url=http://www.cjad.com/CJADLocalNews/entry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10453690]Surpre... sold his home for a buck[/url]

Quote:

A report suggests former city of Montreal engineer Gilles Surprenant recently sold his Greenfield Park home to his daughter for the symbolic price of one dollar.

The Journal de Montreal reports Surprenant, a.k.a. 'M. TPS', sold his $300,000 bungalow on Sept. 19, along with all the furniture inside. And it seems he made the decision to unload the home following a visit from officials with the Charbonneau Commission.

During that visit, he apparently turned over $122,800 in cash, a fraction of the $600,000 in kickbacks he admitted to receiving in connection with city contracts more than a decade ago.

I wonder if he got a kickback on the sale?

lagatta

Well, if he did, I'm sure it was off the books.

It looks like a nice suburban house - I guess you could call it a bungalow, but not at all the same thing as the wee postwar veterans' bungalows one finds in some streets in my area.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

So when does the house get confiscated as the proceeds of crime.  I know the gangs out here in BC would love to know that all they have to do is transfer assets to their family to avoid the Proceeds of Crime legislation.

Unionist

Only in Québec - Lino Zambito, having told all (or most) to the Charbonneau Commission, did it again on the 200th episode of Tout le monde en parle this evening on Radio-Canada TV:

[url=http://www.radio-canada.ca/util/postier/suggerer-go.asp?nID=1053788]Hope this video works...[/url]

lagatta

Evidently Lino is a restauranteur now. Wonder if he'll be hosting a cooking show?

Unionist

And the show must go on:

[url=http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/362030/commission-charbonneau-l... Surprenant testifies that the 3% went to the Executive Committee of city council, not the mayor's party[/url]

Lino Zambito had said the 3% went to Union Montréal. Sounds to me like a difference without a distinction, since Tremblay and his party were in power throughout most of this period.

Surprenant (Monsieur TPS, who got 1%) says he lived under pressure and fear all his career, saying he "understood that there were perhaps some links with a certain criminal organization".

He also clarified his testimony of last week about his first meeting with business magnate Frank Catania in 1991. According to Surprenant, Catania said: "Those who stop us from eating... we eliminate them."

ETA: Here's a report [url=http://www.cjad.com/CJADLocalNews/entry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10454293]in English[/url].

 

Doug

Either way, I'm surprised the people of Montreal haven't shown up with torches and pitchforks (or their modern equivalent) to insist on their mayor's resignation.

Unionist

Good point, Doug. A number of reasons come to mind:

1. Testimony implicating Mayor Tremblay directly only began on Monday.

2. The testimony comes from two self-admitted crooks who (it is widely thought) have received some kind of immunity beyond just the fact that their testimony before the commission can't be used against them.

3. The worst direct evidence against him so far is that he walked out of the room when discussion began about "two budgets" in a byelection campaign 8 years ago, saying "I don't need to hear this".

4. All three provincial parties, and both opposition municipal ones, have already called for Tremblay to "step aside" and/or explain himself. The pitchforks are already out.

5. There are no "good guys" anywhere to be found. It seems everyone in politics, in the civil service, in the construction industry, and in the Mafia knew about the collusion and corruption and kickbacks, or were directly on the take. And it's not just Montréal. The Laval mayor (2nd biggest city in Québec) is on "sick leave" while awaiting his fate. The mayor of Mascouche is under indictment but refuses to step down while awaiting trial.

In short - most people I know aren't outraged - they're just waiting for more testimony. There's a feeling that only the surface is being scraped.

The removal of Tremblay (and I'm sure he will be gone very soon) will change nothing. He didn't create this system, he doesn't run it, and while he didn't blow the whistle, no one else did - for decades. Just as no one has yet blown the whistle on Toronto (just a random example). It will come.

 

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
In short - most people I know aren't outraged - they're just waiting for more testimony. There's a feeling that only the surface is being scraped. 

Despite media reports depicting such revelations as breaking developments, I don't know if its the case that people are waiting for more damning testimony before deciding if they should rush out into the streets, or do something else, mainly because there's nothing new or sudden to any of this, and I suspect people all along know that beneath the surface of the mundane corruption they see everywhere, there's always more.  The media will affix shock and outrage to their bulletins for emphasis, but they're generally unable to reproduce anymore the same effect in audiences that are by and large already desensitized through repetition.  I should emphasize here actually that I’m not being specific to this particular scandal, but it does raise the question of who precisely the media thinks they're notifying.

Unionist

SJ, even though you were commenting in general terms, I think what you said captures exactly the cynical mood here right now. When I said people are waiting for more, it's only in the "popcorn" sense. They're not waiting for more in order to make up their minds about whether the crooks are really crooks.

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