RCMP arrest construction magnate Tony Accurso
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 9:03AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2012 7:24PM EDT
MONTREAL - For the second time this year, Tony Accurso has been arrested.
On Thursday morning the RCMP picked up the construction company chief Accurso, 60, at his Deux-Montagnes home as part of a tax evasion investigation.
The force also arrested three other people, namely Francesco Bruno, 50, the president of BT Ceramique, Adriano Furgiuele, 43, a former Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) auditor, and Francesco Fiorino, Bruno's accountant, who is aged 53.
Each of those men will be charged with six counts of conspiracy, fraud, forgery, and breach of trust by a public officer.
"We're talking about an amount of $3 million, that they tried to hide from the Canada Revenue Agency," said RCMP Corporal Luc Thibault.
The four, along with a fifth suspect, are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 19, 2012.
The RCMP fingered the CRA employee as the inside man in advancing the tax-dodge scheme.
“Furgiuele, as team leader at the CRA, allegedly designed this 17-step plan to outwit the legitimate verifications by the CRA, designing a plan involving a variety of ruses,” said RCMP Corporal Luc Thibault.
The Mounties said that more people are likely to be charged.
RCMP Operation Coche
Operation Coche began in 2008 when the Canada Revenue Agency filed a complaint concerning Bruno and Fiorino.
According to the RCMP there were several irregularities regarding the bank accounts belonging to Bruno and several other members of his firm.
The RCMP said it also seized a document, apparently written by Furgiuele, that detailed a 17-step 'Plan of Action' to outwit the Canada Revenue Agency.
Police said the scheme included using fake bills in order to avoid paying taxes.
Police said that Bruno and Accurso are also accused of agreeing to create a false identity in order to hide funds in offshore accounts. This was apparently the first step in preventing their companies from meeting their financial obligations toward the government.
History of allegations
Accurso and his family have frequently been linked to allegations of corruption in the construction industry, but until his arrest in April the head of the $1.2 billion business empire was never personally connected to corruption.
At that time Accurso was one of 15 people arrested by the SQ permanent anti-corruption squad as it targeted a fraud ring in Mascouche, Laval and Terrebonne in April.
That sweep, part of Operation Hammer, also resulted in charges being laid against the mayor of Mascouche, Richard Marcotte.
Operation Hammer is concerned with allegations that companies are benefiting from sweetheart deals and winning lucrative municipal contracts.
In January, two Accurso companies had their licences suspended after they were both found guilty of tax fraud. Construction Louisbourg and Simard-Beaudry Construction were the recipients of public contracts and were working at the McGill super hospital and countless transportation projects across the province.
Subsidiaries of those firms have continued to operate unhindered.
Montreal’s Accurso contracts
The City of Montreal’s Executive Committee Vice-President noted that the city has been forced to tread lightly around the legality of contracts won by Accurso’s companies, which have now been cancelled.
“Accurso’s arrest is an element in the larger picture,” said Richard Deschamps.
Deschamps said that the city is obliged to consider all bids as long as the company making the bid does have a suspended license.
“If we don’t follow the rules, we could be sued and it would be the taxpayer who’d have to pay,” he said.
-With files from The Canadian Press