UPAC investigating former high-ranking Liberal minister
Published Friday, April 11, 2014 6:36PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 12, 2014 11:33AM EDT
A former Quebec Liberal Party cabinet minister is currently under investigation for fraud, corruption and influence peddling.
Marc-Yvan Cote retired from politics 20 years ago.
But a search warrant carried out in his home in Baie St. Paul last summer was unsealed Friday, and it suggests that he continued to pull strings in the upper echelons of the Liberal Party while Jean Charest was in power.
The documents were unsealed at the behest of a media consortium including French-language newspaper Le Devoir.
Cote was a powerful Liberal minister under Robert Bourassa. When Cote left politics in 1994, he began working for the engineering firm Roche, headquartered in Quebec City.
Cote's job was to use his political contacts to drum-up business for them -- and it worked.
The unsealed warrants reveal that Roche increased business by up to 90 per cent in parts of the province.
The company always claimed it was acting legally.
Investigators now think Cote used his influence through fundraising activities benefiting the Quebec Liberals.
He was involved in a controversial fundraiser for former cabinet minister Nathalie Normandeau in 2008.
The unsealed search warrants also reveal Cote had access to high-ranking political staffers in the Quebec government.
"When Marc-Yvan Cote took over a file, he was able to have it fast-tracked by civil servants," the affidavit reads.
And he had help from political parties.
"Contributions to political parties provided access to the political machinery, which opened the door to opportunities and privileged information."
In the case of Roche, investigators say "it was able to get grants approved for municipalities where it wanted to do business."
Ironically, Cote’s lobbying activities for the government took place while he was still embroiled in the sponsorship scandal with the federal Liberals, which earned-him a lifetime ban from former prime minister Paul Martin.
The affidavits allege that Cote was involved in corruption and influence peddling, but he's never been charged.
The affidavits are still heavily redacted, and could hide even more embarrassing revelations for the Liberals, barely days after the party was elected against a backdrop of corruption allegations.