A new face as Accurso construction empire changes hands
MONTREAL—The jewels of Tony Accurso's construction empire are changing hands.
Five companies that once belonged to the construction magnate, including Louisbourg SBC, will be packaged together and rechristened as Groupe Hexagone.
The person overseeing the new venture will be Joel Gauthier, the former president of provincial transit agency, the AMT. Appointed by the Liberals, Gauthier had run the AMT until early 2012.
The newly-formed company he's running has taken over Accurso's five former firms, in a deal worth $150 million.
According to Gauthier, the construction business has run in his family for generations. He called his new position at the head of Hexagone a “dream come true” and a return to his roots.
The new project for the former provincial appointee has raised eyebrows.
A number of the Accurso’s companies and dealings have been cited in detail at Quebec’s anti-corruption inquiry. Accurso, a man with reputed ties to the Montreal Mafia, has also been arrested twice for fraud and tax evasion.
Two of the man’s sons, James and Marco Accurso, will be shareholders in the new company.
“His two boys won’t sit on the board of directors, they are shareholders at 16 per cent each, there is no place for them to grow that percentage,” said Gauthier, addressing the optics of the company.
Guy Lever, who is on the board of directors of Hexagone Investments, said they will help with operations
“They have expertise that they are bringing into the operations. They are minority shareholders, they are not on the board, and will not be involved in material transactions.”
Admitting to trouble in the Quebec construction industry, Gauthier pledged that transparency and accountability would be paramount as Hexagone deals with its public perception.
He repeated Tuesday morning that despite what people might feel about Accurso, they can’t challenge the quality of his work.
He also said the allegations against Accurso aside, no one can dispute that Accurso’s companies have a reputation for getting the job done.
“I haven't read anywhere anything against the quality of work, the quality of people who work there, and on the execution of the contracts,” he said.
Gauthier said, however, Tony Accurso will not have any attachments to this new company.
Because Hexagone is a new company with new management, despite its ties to Louisbourg SBC and Gastier, a subsidiary of Simard-Beaudry, it appears it will be permitted to bid on city contracts. Companies linked to fraud allegations have been forbidden from bidding on any new municipal contracts.
Mayor Michael Applebaum admitted construction companies can take advantage of loopholes.
“They will modify the ways that they do things and change the structures in order to be awarded contracts. What's important now is that the AMF analyzes all of these dossiers and comes and makes a proposal to us to decide if these companies are eligible to receive contracts,” said Applebaum, adding that he’s committed to making sure companies getting those contracts are now clean, even if their past – under a different name – may not be.