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Judge rounds on head of Quebec security firm at centre of political scandals Add to ...

The shadowy head of a bankrupt Montreal security company caught up in scandal has been called out by a frustrated judge who suggested he is trying to abuse the justice system.

But Madam Justice Chantal Corriveau was just one of multiple critics who took a shot Thursday at Luigi Coretti and his Montreal firm.

Mr. Coretti's company, the Canadian Bureau of Investigations and Adjustments, was declared bankrupt following a meeting of creditors who are owed about $14-million. They include about 1,000 current and former employees, the province and Movement Desjardins.

The bankruptcy comes in a month that has already seen the company investigated by auditors, the chief electoral officer and provincial police for alleged inappropriate links to Quebec Liberals and the city of Montreal.

Across town from the bankruptcy meeting, Mr. Coretti called in sick to a civil court hearing over a minor contract dispute - one of the dozens of lawsuits that have named him since 1990.

Mr. Coretti sent a young temporary lawyer to give his regrets and ask the judge to move the case to 2011. Instead, the barrister got an earful from the judge.

"Ridiculous," said Judge Corriveau of Quebec Superior Court. "He claims to be sick, without offering any proof … it's an abuse of the judicial system and it sends the message that we are here at the disposal of those who would abuse the judicial system." She ordered Mr. Coretti to appear in court in October.

Until recently, few Quebeckers and few Liberals had ever heard of Luigi Coretti. In 2010, he's become well known for his political contributions to Liberals and the numerous ways the political, municipal and financial systems seem to have bent in his favour.

When Mr. Coretti's name suddenly burst on the scene early this month, one Quebec cabinet minister was fired for having a credit card from Mr. Coretti's firm, known under its French acronym, BCIA. Police are now investigating the matter. Mere days later, another cabinet minister was caught out pushing provincial police to permit Mr. Coretti to carry a gun after he had already been rejected.

Raised in the east-end of Montreal, the 44-year-old businessman has had careers as a military policeman and fire investigator, as well as a car salesman. He was divorced and declared personal bankruptcy twice in the 1990s, before BCIA was launched in 1998.

"He's a shrewd manipulator," said a once-close acquaintance of Mr. Coretti who is estranged from him and spoke on the condition of anonymity. "For years he was a loser who couldn't get credit for anything, and now the government is handing him millions."

Last week, a Montreal city auditor revealed Mr. Coretti's firm had provided security for Montreal police headquarters since 2006, under an agreement that was never written down. Police Chief Yvan Delorme, who announced he is stepping own earlier this month, lunched with Mr. Coretti in 2005, before becoming chief and striking the verbal agreement, Montreal's La Presse reported.

Several senior BCIA managers are former police officers. Mr. Coretti and current cop friends are regulars at a café in Old Montreal.

The unwritten police agreement was just one deal among millions in government contracts linking BCIA with the province's liquor stores, Montreal schools, water treatment plants and the Montreal police communications centre.

Despite his two bankruptcies, Mr. Coretti received some $4-million for his firm from the province's regional development funds in 2008. He contributed at least $6,500 in official donations to Liberal coffers in the three years leading up to the grants.

The Chief Electoral Officer is probing allegations of hidden corporate donations involving Mr. Coretti and BCIA. Allegations have been raised in the legislature that Mr. Coretti distributed $5,000 in Liberal fundraiser tickets to BCIA employees. The opposition has also suggested BCIA was transporting cash for firms involved in money laundering.

Mr. Coretti did not respond to several interview requests.

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