Ipex admits to influencing city hall with food and trips, Charbonneau breaks early
Published Monday, November 26, 2012 2:27PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 26, 2012 9:48PM EST
MONTREAL—Days after revealing that his company was pushed out of municipal contracts due to a refusal to bribe mobsters, Michel Cadotte admitted to the Charbonneau Commission on Monday that Ipex tried to influence decision-makers at city hall.
According to Cadotte, Ipex’s sales director, his company brought Montreal’s head of public works on an expensive hunting tip in 2005. Robert Marcil was also wined and dined by Cadotte four times.
Last week, Cadotte testified at the anti-corruption inquiry that Ipex tried to sell PVC pipes to the City of Montreal. Selling a cheaper, sturdier pipe used by most Canadian municipalities, Montreal-based Ipex was accepted by the city until a contractor with mob ties asked for a kickback.
Michel Cadotte testifies before the Charbonneau Commission in Montreal, Thursday, November 22, 2012, which is an inquiry looking into corruption and collusion in the Quebec construction industry.
When Cadotte refused, Montreal went back to using iron pipes.
With Ipex admitting to providing trips and restaurants to people at city hall for nearly decade, Justice France Charbonneau asked what the difference was between a $150,000 brown envelope and years of food and trip.
“Well, with $150,000 it isn’t like you’ll be getting a receipt for that,” said Cadotte. “When we go out hunting or other activities in restaurants, it was charged to company expense accounts. It’s the way of doing business for manufacturers. I don’t think at all that we can compare that to $150,000 in cash.”
Contractor Piero Di Iorio also took the stand to describe how he was shut out of the bidding process, and faced reprisals if he tried.
Describing himself as a proud Italian, Di Iorio said his father warned him never to place bids against Sicilians, because they decided who could bid and who could not.
“I'm Italian, but not Sicilian, and I'm not in their gang because I'm not Sicilian,” he said. “And the Sicilians, when they want something, there's nothing you can do.”
On Monday the commission also announced that it would be taking its winter break three weeks early. With the commission planning to run until Dec. 20, Charbonneau accepted to stop on Thursday.
The commission’s 90 lawyers asked for the longer break to prepare new witnesses and digest the massive amount of new leads and information that have piled onto the commission.
“We have a lot of information we gathered from testimony and we have to take time to analyze all this information to make sure that everything presented… is of high standard,” said prosecutor Sonia Lebel.
Public hearings will resume Jan. 20.
The commission is seeking to close the chapter on municipal corruption in Montreal this week.