Tony Accurso retires as corruption squad raids more Laval construction firms
The day that the province's anti-corruption squad raided three more construction companies north of Montreal, construction magnate Tony Accurso announced his retirement.
The firms raided Tuesday are Construction DJL in Boucherville, Asphalte Desjardins in Terrebonne and G. Giuliani Inc. in Laval.
This month UPAC has already searched two residences belonging to the mayor of Laval and a dozen construction companies, including several that are part of the Accurso family of industries.
On Tuesday morning Accurso sent a letter to his employees saying that his presence had become a distraction to the operation of his enterprises.
The letter reads in part "After much thought, beginning more than a year ago, I have decided to retire completely from the business world."
"After more than thirty years at the head of these enterprises I believe it is best to leave them to people who are younger and more energetic and able to surmount the challenges they face in the future."
Accurso has long been suspected of having ties to the mafia and was arrested twice this year. He faces charges of tax fraud, and two of his companies, Louisbourg Construction and Simard-Beaudry, had their licenses suspended earlier this year after being found guilty of tax fraud.
The Accurso group of construction companies has more than 3,500 employees.
Meanwhile at the Charbonneau Commission this week former construction company owner Lino Zambito said it was an open secret among construction companies that Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt was corrupt, personally skimming 2.5 percent of all construction contracts in Laval.
Zambito also said that engineering firms working for Terrebonne sold privileged information to specific companies so they could make winning bids for contracts.
On Monday afternoon Vaillancourt denied the allegations, saying he had never accepted any money from Zambito or any other contractor in exchange for public works contracts.
The political opposition in Laval, which does not hold any seats on city council, says it is time for the province to withdraw funding for several projects in that city, especially the new sports complex.
"We're hoping they put it on hold until all these allegations are cleared," said Emilio Migliozzi of Mouvement Lavallois.
"If we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that there are no more allegations, let's do it, let's get the complex done, but right now I don't think it's kosher to do that."
Place Bell is slated to open in 2014. The provincial and municipal governments have budgeted $120 million for the centre, which will be run by the same group that runs the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal.