Corruption in Laval: Accurso funded parties with nominees

Ex-entrepreneur Tony Accurso says he gave $ 75,000 a year to fundraiser Marc Bibeau for financing the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) in the form of 25 $ 3000 checks signed by employees of his companies. who were then reimbursed.

Although he did not specify the amounts for the other parties during his testimony on Friday, at his trial for fraud, corruption, breach of trust and conspiracy, Mr. Accurso said he had a budget dedicated to this end. He said that, in addition to the PLQ, the other two provincial parties at the time, the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ), had benefited.

However, he was unable to remember whether he had contributed to the financing of the party of former Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.

Mr. Accurso claims to have obtained the assurance from his auditors that the practice was perfectly legal and that this expense was openly recorded in the books, but that it ended in 2010 when Minister Jean-Marc Fournier clarified the law. to prohibit financing through nominees.

Tony Accurso also said he had learned of the collusion and rebate system in Laval when he was arrested in 2013.

After being released, he said he immediately contacted the president of Louisbourg Construction, his cousin Joe Molluso, who would then have confirmed the fact.

“What you did, you’ll admit it. You’re going to plead guilty, “said Accurso, adding that Joe Molluso was still working for him today as an advisor for his children’s businesses, which are not related to the construction sector.

“I did not have the heart to put it out; he was a family member, “he pleaded.

His lawyer, Marc Labelle, led him to repeat another time that he had never delivered two envelopes containing $ 200,000 in cash to Marc Gendron, a fundraiser involved in the rebate system. former mayor Vaillancourt.

Earlier in the morning, Tony Accurso testified that he did not have good relations with former Mayor Vaillancourt.

The businessman said he had asked the mayor several times to help him de-zonate farmland adjacent to the quarry he had acquired on Laval territory in 2002, in order to enlarge it, without success. .

He indicated that the mayor was only putting obstacles to this step.

“I presented him with solutions and he presented me with problems,” Accurso said.

“I was not one of his favorites,” he added.

He also contradicted the secretary of the mayor, Josiane Pesant, who had testified that meetings between the mayor and the accused were secret.

Tony Accurso claimed that he was attending these meetings at City Hall in full view of everyone and that the mayor insisted on holding the meeting in a restaurant he frequented assiduously.

In this restaurant, according to the accused, Mayor Vaillancourt was always greeted by fellow citizens, “sloppy,” he imagined.

And during these meetings, the mayor was still engaged in a monologue on his achievements, monologue “which lasted 50 minutes out of 60”, the last ten minutes being reserved for questions that Mr. Accurso wanted to discuss. The entrepreneur said that Gilles Vaillancourt “never paid” these meals.

Mr. Labelle also submitted several documents related to submissions signed by Mr. Accurso who explained that he signed “piles” of documents in advance for submissions every day, his company doing 40 to 50 submissions a week .

While Mr. Labelle continued the long presentation on the development of his business, Judge James Brunton stressed that the jury did not need all these details. The lawyer raised his voice, replying that the purpose of this presentation was “to get away from a money envelope in a parking lot; these transactions, there is a life behind that, “he pleaded.

Tony Accurso flatly denied, as an opening witness the day before, any participation in the system of collusion and corruption in the award of contracts to the City of Laval.

His defense was based on the assumption that he was unaware of anything the presidents of his companies would do, which in his view were solely responsible for any wrongdoing.

His presence on the witness stand, where he has been relaxed and smiling so far, however, may become more uncomfortable in the afternoon, while it will be the turn of the Crown to cross-examine.

Tony Accurso, who celebrated his 66th birthday on Wednesday, faces five counts of fraud over $ 5,000, breach of trust, corruption, conspiracy to commit acts of corruption and conspiracy to commit crimes. fraud.

He is the only one of the 37 defendants arrested in this case in 2013 who chose to defend themselves in court. Among the others, 27 pleaded guilty, including Gilles Vaillancourt who was sentenced to six years of penitentiary. Three died, while seven defendants had a stay of proceedings because of unreasonable delays.

The whole case is about a system of pre-arranged and distributed contracts between a small group of entrepreneurs in exchange for rebates handed over to members of the Vaillancourt administration.