Inquiry looking at ties between Mafia, investment fund
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 9:58AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 16, 2013 6:36PM EDT
The Charbonneau Commission is taking a closer look at the activities of the Fonds de Solidarité-FTQ, also known as the Solidarity Fund of the Quebec Federation of Labour.
Gaetan Morin, the first Vice-President of Corporate Development and Investments for the Fund, is testifying about the investment group's operations.
Morin said this week that the fund, created in 1980, was designed to complement lending institutions as the money it controlled could help secure other bank loans for entrepreneurs.
The previous witness, Ken Pereira, suggested there might have been some irregularities in how the fund worked, and in particular pointed out what he considered to be favouritism in how some of the fund's executives were chosen.
In particular QFL-Construction leader Jocelyn Dupuis bragged about having access to the $9 billion fund, and allegedly helped members of the Hells Angels and Mafia obtain financing, while accused fraudster and former construction company owner Tony Accurso was often able to secure loans from the fund.
Morin testifed Tuesday that those days are gone.
"If I recall, to specifically answer your question, in 2006, 4 percent of the fund [was in construction], It is now 2 percent," said Morin.
However Morin had difficulty explaining why the fund only began doing background checks on potential fund recipients in 2009.
"Before 2009 we made a point of verifying databases, like the business registry," said Morin. Now the Solidarity Fund relies on agencies like Garda and Guardex to perform background checks.
The next witness is Benoit Ringuette, co-founder of a company called CarboNeutre, which is suspected of having strong ties to the Mafia and to convicted drug trafficker Raynald Desjardins.
Pereira testified that Desjardins often acted as if he controlled the QFL-Construction union, getting to decide who could work on certain job sites.
Desjardins is currently awaiting trial for the murder of Sal "The Ironworker" Montagna, the former head of the Bonanno crime family of New York.