MONTREAL - About three-of-four Hells Angels in Quebec are part owners in above-board companies, according to biker expert Alain Belleau, who testified before the Charbonneau commission Thursday.

“We did a small survey in 2010,” he said. “We checked each Hells member and saw that over 75 percent of members had companies in their names.”

When other investments were taken into account, that total rose to over 80 percent and some of those companies were connected to the construction industry.

Bikers also invested in real estate, business services, strip bars, stripper placement agencies, restaurants, bars, MMA events and motorcycle shops.

The bikers own the companies for the purpose of laundering money and as a safeguard against investigations into their illegal revenues, Belleau explained.

Biker brass would ensure that fellow members had the legit-looking incomes as a way to guard against police investigation, he noted.

In spite of their participation in the business world, the bikers have maintained their habits of bullying and intimidation, according to the expert.

“It's part of the culture and purpose, the modus operandi of the Hells Angels to use intimidation and violence,” said Belleau. “Violence and murder are not a goal sought by the Hells Angels but are used as a means to achieve their ends.”

“Unlike traditional Italian organized crime, being visible is important, it’s one of their tools,” said the Attorney Sonia LeBel in a summary Thursday.

“It’s the power of the patch,” agreed Belleau.

After Belleau finished his testimony, the FTQ construction union asked for, and was granted, participant status in the hearings.

As a result, FTQ lawyer Andre Ryan obtains the right to cross-examine witnesses who discuss the FTQ and their interests.

The later testimony before the commission Thursday was covered by a publication ban, which is expected to continue through Monday when the commission reconvenes as the court hears from eight witnesses.

Their testimony is being kept confidential because some of the information involves other criminal cases.

-With files from The Canadian Press