Liberal MNAs' swearing-in spoiled by allegations of illegal fundraising
Published Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:44PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 9:32PM EDT
The Quebec Liberals are under fire concerning allegations of illegal fundraising on the very day that 70 of its candidates are being sworn in as MNAs.
Marc Bibeau is a director of Power Corporation and the majority shareholder of a company called Shockbeton.
But investigators at the province’s anti-corruption unit claim he's also the Liberal Party's leading fundraiser.
UPAC raided Bibeau’s offices in November.
They were looking for evidence that he arranged illicit fundraising activities with Lino Zambito to benefit former deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau.
Bibeau is also alleged to have dealt with Violette Trepanier - a former Liberal minister who was until recently the director of fundraising for the party.
Philippe Couillard let her go last March.
Investigators met witnesses who claim that Bibeau was responsible for collecting illegal political funds from big businesses.
"Bibeau was a political strategist, who kept an eye on donations from large companies," reads the search warrant.
Bibeau and Trepanier would then allegedly place the slush funds in a secret stash called riding 127, at the Liberal Party's headquarters on Waverly St.
Police documents show they found $700,000 in that account last summer, including $428 000 raised by Bibeau during one single event -- something Bibeau denies.
The liberal party says they change the rules in 2009 to stamp out any chances of illegal fundraising activities. But according to the search warrant, some of the activities might have continued right up until last year.
"Violette Trepanier's phone records show that from 2012 to 2013, she spoke to marc Bibeau roughly 300 times," the warrant says.
Trepanier was officially fired from the Liberal Party in 2013.
As for Nathalie Normandeau, La Presse reported that she was still involved with the party during this year's electoral campaign.
In Quebec City today, the premier-designate was forced to defend his barely-elected government.
“We were not aware of this, I was not aware of this, but importantly, actions have been taken, are being taken and we'll give Quebecers a competent, and honest government,” Couillard said.
The opposition Parti Quebecois is pressuring the Couillard Liberals to shed light on alleged fundraising violations committed by former party members.
Several PQ MNAs demanded Thursday that the Liberals disclose all information in their possession relating to allegations of wrongdoing in the party’s financing after news emerged of an investigation into the affair by the the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC).
Rosemont MNA Jean-François Lisée urged Couillard to say what he knows and when he knew it. MNAs Stéphane Bédard and Agnès Maltais were among the other PQ MNAs echoing the request.