MONTREAL - The quality of Montreal’s roads has been in decline for the last decade because, according to one Charbonneau Commission witness, the cartel that controlled road repairs conspired to skimp on quality.

The comments came Monday from Gilles Theberge, retired director of the Laval-based Sintra construction company, which participated in the cartel from 2000.

Théberge detailed how his company started getting business in Laval after he met with former Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt in 1994.

The two sat down at a tennis club and Vaillancourt made veiled references to the fact that Sintra would have to join the collusion system if it wanted contracts.

Vaillancourt told Théberge, “If you want to live in Laval and work in Laval, you’ve got to join the system or else just sell your asphalt company and leave,” Théberge told commissioner Claudine Roy.

Théberge said he was already aware of the existence the collusion system in Laval, as a friend in the business had told him previously about its workings.

Laval city hall would issue 10 to 15 calls for tender simultaneously and each of the companies would win some of them, according to Théberge.

After each tender was made public, Laval’s director of engineering Paul DeGuise would inform each company of the contracts that they would be given.

Those companies, in turn, would contact the others to tell them not to bid or make less-competitive bids to make the record seem clean.

Sitting at the top of the system was Mayor Vaillancourt, according to Theberge.

Antonio Accurso owned the only companies that could score contracts in both Laval and Montreal, but Théberge said he did not know how Accurso managed the feat.

Theberge left Sintra in June 2000 after a bomb exploded in his car and he then joined Valmont Nadon in 2001.

His new company was also considered a good payer to the Vaillancourt coffers.

They would send half their kickback – two percent of the value of the contract - before the work and the other half after the work was done.

Theberge said he paid the money to Roger Dubois, the V.P. of Tecsult, who has already testified before the commission.

Stephane Giroux is reporting on the commission.