Two elected Quebec Liberals received illegal funding from an engineering firm in 2008, according to documents the anti-corruption police unit used to obtain a search warrant at company headquarters last January.
The court documents were released to a consortium of media outlets including La Presse and Radio-Canada. Reports on their contents said former Liberal MNA Georges Mamelonet and an MNA whose name was blacked out received illegal contributions from the engineering firm Roche Inc. in 2008 as part of strategy to obtain government contracts. Mr. Mamelonet, who represented the riding of Gaspé, was elected in 2008 but defeated in 2012.
The documents also said the former mayor of Gaspé, François Roussy, also received favours from Roche, such as a paid trip to France, in return for municipal contracts.
E-mails that were among the legal documents quoted by La Presse alleged that Roche asked Henri Ouellet, president of Premier-Tech, which builds residential sewer treatment systems, in 2008 to “collect $5,000” for Mr. Mamelonet. The reports do not say if Mr. Ouellet’s company complied.
After the election, Mr. Mamelonet wrote to Roche saying, “You can be assured that I will be there for Roche,” according to the legal documents.
The documents said that Mr. Roussy set up a scheme in which Roch guaranteed a 5 per cent kickback on municipal contracts to help sponsor local projects.
“Roche then appears as a saviour in the community and eliminates firms competing for contracts which places it in a favourable position to obtain future contracts,” the document stated.
Mr. Mamelonet and Mr. Roussy denied being involved in corrupt practices.
Mr. Mamelonet told the local Radio-Canada affiliate that he was not aware of any situation involving illegal funding. Mr. Roussy also rejected the allegations in the police document.
“Roche never paid for any trip. The association of engineers invited me to represent Quebec at [a] convention [in St-Malo, France],” Mr. Roussy said. “And there were never any funds created from kickbacks on the awarding of contracts.”
The allegations in the documents, signed by UPAC investigator Jean-François Rail, have not been proven in court.
The court documents said the engineering firm covered up illegal contributions to the Quebec Liberal Party by reimbursing employees of the firm and companies it worked with for their political contributions. Quebec law prohibits companies, unions and other entities from making political donations. In the legal documents, officers quote a witness who indicates that former Liberal cabinet minister Marc-Yvan Côté, who became a vice-president of Roche after quitting politics in 1994, masterminded the illegal funding scheme.
The documents said all of the firm’s vice-presidents were required to make political contributions and were reimbursed using a salary bonus system or false receipts. Sub-contractors were used to issue the false receipts, the legal documents said.
Liberal Labour Minister Sam Hamad was a vice-president at Roche before he entered provincial politics in 2003. Documents filed with the province’s chief electoral officer show he made the maximum allowable contribution of $3,000 a year to the Quebec Liberal Party in 2001 and 2002 just before entering politics. The contributions dropped after he was elected to $1,020 in 2003, $1,000 in 2004, and $400 in 2006.
Mr. Hamad denied Roche ever reimbursed him for his political contributions when he worked at the firm.
“No one asked me to make contributions. I never attended meetings of vice-presidents asking for political contributions. … I never asked to be reimbursed, and I was never reimbursed,” Mr. Hamad told reporters on Friday.
Mr. Hamad also said that the anti-corruption police unit, known as UPAC, never contacted him in relation to its investigation involving his former employer.
The documents also listed municipal projects that Ministry of Municipal Affairs officials had turned down yet received discretionary approval from the minister. The list included 50 projects, the contracts for 18 of which went to Roche. The documents said Mr. Côté and former municipal affairs minister Nathalie Normandeau’s chief of staff, Bruno Lortie, went on a hunting trip paid for by the firm.
The UPAC investigation into Quebec Liberal Party financing has led to searches at party headquarters, one of Mr. Côté‘s homes and the offices of party fundraiser Marc Bibeau, who was a close friend of former premier Jean Charest and a member of the board at Power Corporation’s Power Financial Corporation.
Called Operation Joug, the investigation is ongoing.