Mayor supports SQ's efforts to figure out SHDM issue
Published Wednesday, April 29, 2009 7:30AM EDT
The mayor of Montreal says he did not know what was going on at the Soci�t� d'habitation et de d�veloppement de Montr�al (SHDM), but that the city supports the SQ in their efforts to get to the bottom of it.
His comments are in reaction to a report tabled Monday night by the city's auditor general, Michel Doyon, investigating questionable transactions involving city land conducted by the SHDM.
The SHDM is a para-public body that is now at arm's length from the government, but that used to be part of the city. According to its website it is "non-profit organization which develops integrated real-estate projects in the residential, commercial, industrial and institutional sectors."
Tremblay pointed out that the man who was in charge of the company at the time of the questionable transactions, Martial Fillion, has been replaced, as has most of the board.
Benoit Labonte, head of Vision Montreal wanted to know why the mayor did not know about the happenings at the SHDM.
Doyon said the police should be called in to investigate real-estate deals by Montreal's former municipal housing corporation.
In a lengthy report that follows a four-month investigation, Michel Doyon said the SDHM made dubious real-estate sales without appropriate authorization from the city, and at prices below the fair market value.
Mayor G�rald Tremblay's administration had asked Doyon to investigate 20 transactions the SHDM made since it was privatized two years ago.
One of the projects investigated by Doyon involves Antonio Accurso, a Montreal businessman who has been surrounded by controversy in recent weeks.
Frank Zampino -- former city councilor and president of the Montreal executive committee -- confirmed earlier this month that he spent time vacationing in the Caribbean on Accurso's luxury yacht while the businessman was trying to secure a $355-million water meter contract.
The city ultimately granted the multi-million dollar contract to GENIeau, a consortium that included a company owned by Accurso.
The contract was suspended following the revelations of the luxury yacht trips, but the scandal only deepened once it surfaced that three of Accurso's companies are now being investigated by the Canada Revenue Agency for tax fraud.
Now, the auditor-general's report shows the SHDM bought a city lot in the borough of St. Laurent for $733,000, then sold it to Constructions Louisbourg Ltd. -- partly owned by Accurso -- for $1.