The permanent provincial anti-corruption squad said 2012 was a very busy year, but it's not done yet.

UPAC Commissioner Robert Lafreniere delivered an appraisal of the past 12 months and said his team can be proud of a litany of accomplishments:

  • 49 arrests
  • 177 charges filed
  • 13 companies accused of crimes
  • 450+ searches

Those arrests happened throughout the province and also led, in part, to the resignations of the mayors of Montreal, Laval and Mascouche.

Noted construction magnate Tony Accurso also retired in 2012 following his arrests and fraud charges.

Lafreniere say UPAC still has 22 ongoing investigations against provincial and municipal targets which will keep the organization busy throughout 2013.

"We will improve our prevention plan. we will make better contact with international [forces] .. because you know some strategies are made in other places and exported to us. We're speaking about the Mafia," said Lafreniere.

The commissioner said the public fascination with the Charbonneau Commission into corruption within the construction industry is also bearing fruit.

He said people enthralled by the sight of justice being done are flooding UPAC with tips about possible corruption.

He said more than 20 ongoing investigations touch on areas outside the construction industry into things like contracts for computer technology and work related to the Plan Nord. That's the provincial project to develop mining, tourism and infrastructure in the north.

The arrests so far have dealt essentially with alleged wrongdoing in the construction industry at the municipal level -- with charges laid against the mayors of two small towns and the mayor of Laval resigning after his homes and offices were searched.

Lafreniere was asked whether his unit is also investigating activity at the federal or provincial level.

He replied that the ongoing investigations are looking into municipal and provincial activity.

"Corruption does not simply affect the construction industry and our field of intervention is vast. Our investigations are leading us to areas as diverse as computer technology, the hospital sector, the Plan Nord and infrastructure," he said.

Details of suspected fraud in the hospital sector have already emerged publicly. A $2.3 billion hospital project was at the centre of fraud charges laid late last month against Pierre Duhaime, the former chief executive of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Lafreniere said 3,500 people have been questioned as part of ongoing investigations.

With a report from The Canadian Press