MONTREAL -- The Quebec government is confident it will get its money back after alleging fraud in the purchase of $45 million worth of N95 masks that never came.

The purchase came via Quebec City's Laval University Hospital, which was placed in charge of acquiring medical supplies at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businessman and Brossard resident Patrick Ledoux told hospital officials he could purchase 5 million N95 masks for $45 million from a 3M plant in China. While large government orders are usually subject to a tender process, the rules were loosened due to the crisis situation.

The government said Ledoux was paid upfront for the masks but when he attempted to transfer the funds to bank accounts outside Canada, it set off alarms at TD Bank.

At the time, the American Federal Bureau of Investigations and Interpol were warning governments about a spike in frauds.

When the Quebec government asked for its money back, TD agreed to freeze the funds.

Ledoux insisted the transaction was legitimate and presented official documents that were later determined to be fabrications.

The government and bank later confirmed that 3M did not have large supplies of N95s available.

Legault admitted the government made a mistake in trying to purchase masks through Ledoux.

“We have to understand this is a special situation where everybody in the world was looking for masks,” he said. “Some sellers were looking for money before delivering the goods.”

While Ledoux was not charged with any illegal acts, a judge did conclude there was likely fraud involved in the incident and allowed the funds to be frozen.

“I'm happy to see the $45 million has been frozen and the court permitted that we freeze the money so we're confident we'll recuperate the $45 million,” said Legault.

Neither Ledoux nor his attorney were available for comment.