UPAC arrests Frank Zampino, Mr. 3%, and others for fraud
Published Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:16AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 20, 2017 8:14AM EDT
UPAC is accusing Frank Zampino, Bernard Trepanier, and six other men of defrauding the city of Montreal by rigging multiple city contracts between 2001 and 2009.
The force arrested Zampino, Trepanier, Normand Brousseau, Robert Marcil, Dany Moreau, Kazimierz Olechnowicz, and Yves Theberge early Tuesday morning. Police found Bernard Poulin, a construction company executive, later in the day.
The anti-corruption squad said all eight men will be charged with fraud, conspiracy, and corruption, while Zampino, Trepanier, and Marcil will also be charged with breach of trust.
UPAC said its investigation began in 2014 and led the force to scrutinize 30 contracts worth more than $160 million--mostly involving engineering and consulting--over an eight-year period.
Multiple witnesses testified at the Charbonneau Commission into corruption in the construction industry that there was a ring of engineering consulting firms working with bureaucrats and elected officials to rig contracts, divert funds to the coffers of a political party, and block other companies from winning bids.
Those witnesses said that a cartel of engineering firms divvied-up contracts amongst themselves and then counted on Trepanier and Marcil, the former director of public works in Montreal, to rig the calls for tenders.
UPAC said the investigation benefited greatly from the work of Montreal's comptroller general.
The eight men arrested were all released from custody on Tuesday with a promise to appear in court on Nov. 8.
Only Olechnowicz commented, telling reporters "I'm not guilty."
Lino Zambito, a whistleblower and former construction company owner who participated in bribery schemes, said the arrests likely came this late because of legal changes in Canada.
"I think it's a new start for UPAC because now they know, they're quite aware of [the Jordan decision] so they're proceeding according to that. The others that were arrested before, Jordan came in while the trials or negotiations were going through so UPAC was stuck with that," said Zambito.
Contrecoeur trial won't be affected
The names of the accused are familiar to many since several of the men testified about corruption and collusion at the Charbonneau Inquiry, and because several are already accused of other crimes.
Zampino, the former head of Montreal's Executive Committee, and Trepanier, a Union Montreal fundraiser, are currently on trial for their roles in the 2007 sale of the Faubourg Contrecoeur development, where land worth $20 million was sold to a construction firm for $4.4 million.
The Crown says Zampino used his influence at City Hall to finagle the deal.
Trepanier, aka Mr. 3%, was a fundraiser for the former municipal political party and he told the Charbonneau commission into corruption in the construction industry that he worked as an unregistered lobbyist for several companies.
Trepanier was diagnosed with lung cancer which has since metastasized to his liver.
In 2015, UPAC raided his home, and the homes of several others, who were all connected in some way to the city of Montreal's $355 million water meter contract that was cancelled in 2007.
In front of the Charbonneau Commission Marcil pleaded his innocence to taking part in any criminal schemes, but also testified how he routinely accepted gifts from contractors and would visit them at their homes to discuss bids and tenders.
Because their trial is taking place before a judge, it is not expected that the new arrests and charges will have any effect.
Other men accused had testified
In 2009 Marcil was forced to resign after city officials were tipped off that he had accepted a free trip to Italy from a contractor who won a $5 million contract.
In 2013 the Order of Engineers charged Marcil with violating ethical guidelines.
Poulin, the head of construction firm Groupe SM, was recorded in 2011 in discussion with another construction chief, Tony Accurso, discussing how they could influence the Harper government in order to get one man hired as president of the Port of Montreal.
Moreau, Olechnowicz, and Theberge all work or worked for CIMA+ engineering.
"I think it's the beginning of other arrests that will happen soon in the fall," said Lino Zambito, who testified at the Charbonneau Commission. "This morning were some Montreal officials and some engineers but that's only a part of what we heard at the Charbonneau Commission."