The cross-examination: Construction boss grilled at Charbonneau Commission
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:24AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 6, 2013 8:23PM EST
The man who played victim at the Charbonneau Commission was grilled under cross-examination Wednesday.
Construction company owner Joe Borsellino has been pointing the blame about collusion in Montreal at a mid-level city engineer, while commissioners don't appear to be placing much faith in what Borsellino has to say.
"You have neither the air of someone who is convinced, no are you convincing," said Justice France Charbonneau.
In his testimony, the owner of Garnier Construction, who only reluctantly admitted to any facts when presented with transcripts and audio recordings, said corruption has been endemic at Montreal City Hall for decades.
"What I'm saying clearly is, because I put an offer of $7 million, approximately, I'm admitting that the job is rigged. I'm admitting it," said Borsellino.
Borsellino testified that he showered city officials with gifts and free trips to try to ease what he calls a bad relationship with the city.
The prosecutor showed the opposite, however: that Borsellino's company was indeed doing great business with city hall, and that the gifts were likely bribes to city officials, thanking them for major construction contracts.
Faced with evidence on paper, Borsellino had another excuse: forgery.
“What I'm saying here, Madame la president, is everything here is fake,” he said.
Charbonneau was skeptical.
“So everything is fixed by lowering the prices so you can't bid and the purpose of the price fixing is to lower costs?” she said.
Borsellino’s answers were confusing, though more often, he claimed not to know, or not to remember.
Charbonneau occasionally called the businessman to order, at one point telling him, “You sound neither convinced, nor convincing.”
The commission was finally able to get to Borsellino whether he liked it or not, and brought in the name of the Rizzuto clan.
“I know families like the Rizzutos,” said Borsellino, through nervous laughter, swearing he isn’t linked to the Mafia and never paid the mob for anything.
Borsellino, however, earned a severe beating in 2009, requiring reconstructive facial surgery.
“I opened the door and I was beaten up,” he said, telling the commission the beating was by three people, who never spoke during the altercation.
Borsellino added that he never filed a complaint with police, because he didn't see the point.
The commission continues Thursday.