Corruption taskforce descends on MUHC offices
Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:49AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 19, 2012 9:32AM EDT
MONTREAL--The McGill University Health Centre was in the hot seat Tuesday as Quebec’s anti-corruption taskforce raided its offices in downtown Montreal.
The Unité permanente anticorruption is investigating contracts awarded in the massive superhospital project, searching for illegal activity and questioning workers at the MUHC.
The high-profile raid of the Guy St. offices was carried out in a low-profile manner, with about 10 investigators in black suits and an undercover fleet parked in the driveway next door. Many employees were unaware of the raid.
Details surrounding the investigation remain vague.
“All I can say is that people are being questioned,” said Anne-Frederique Laurence, the UPAC’s spokesperson. “Any other details would compromise our investigation.”
Laurence did not say what led the unit to the MUHC offices but she said that no arrests would be made Tuesday.
The MUHC is involved in a private-public venture to build a superhospital in the city’s west end.
Representatives from the hospital confirmed they are being questioned by police.
“The McGill University Health Centre confirms that at 8 o’clock this morning UPAC came to the MUHC requesting information relating to the award of the contract for the Glen site in a public- private partnership,” said spokesperson Richard Fahey."The MUHC is cooperating fully with the investigators and has no further comments at this stage."
No arrests have been made in connection with Tuesday's raid.
The largest construction project underway in the province at the moment, the MUHC redevelopment project is worth $1.35 billion, a figure which includes the Montreal General Hospital renovation.
Some of the companies working on the massive Glen Yards project have come under scrutiny from corruption investigators, including Louisbourg SBC--the company owned by controversial businessman Tony Accurso.
In April, Accurso and 15 others were rounded up by police and charged with corruption, fraud, bribery and conspiracy. Despite these charges, Louisbourg was allowed to keep its contracts with the MUHC.
La Presse justice reporter Yves Boisvert said the link between the MUHC and Accurso say be a reason why the raid took place.
"Tony Accurso, who is one of the most important people in the construction business in Quebec, has already been accused before in a criminal court. He's involved in this contract. Does he have anything to do with this investigation? We don't know, but sure, that's one of the first questions we might ask," he said.
With the Charbonneau Commission resuming this week, the MUHC may come under even heavier scrutiny, said Boisvert.
"This sure is relevant for the Charbonneau Commission because they have full power to investigate even hospital contracts," he said
The UPAC is a coalition of 200 Sûreté du Québec investigators, crown prosecutors and representatives from the province’s construction regulatory body. It was formed in 2011 amid allegations of widespread corruption, collusion and influence peddling in the construction industry.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the project cost $2.35 billion. New building and renovations to the entire McGill University Health Centre will cost $2.35 billion, including work on the Montreal General as well as a number of other hospitals within the health network. The Glen site project is estimated at $1.35 billion.