The Quebec government has laid 928 charges against construction magnate Antonio Accurso and the firms that he used to administer, seeking fines of $8.5-million and jail terms over allegations of widespread tax fraud.
Revenu Québec is going after Mr. Accurso personally, unlike the Canada Revenue Agency that only went after his firms in a separate investigation three years ago. By agreeing to the plea deal with the federal taxation agency, Simard-Beaudry Construction Inc. and Louisbourg Construction Ltd. were affected in their ability to obtain government contracts, but there was no direct consequence for Mr. Accurso.
The charges laid on Wednesday by Revenu Québec mean that Mr. Accurso faces a prison term if he is found guilty, and also that his future business dealings stand to be affected by the outcome of the case. The Quebec government has enacted new rules that prevent firms and individuals with a history of legal problems from obtaining government contracts.
The provincial probe was named Project Touch after Mr. Accurso's yacht, on which he entertained powerful figures from the worlds of politics, business and the union movement.
According to a statement by Quebec's anti-corruption unit, Revenu Québec has laid 222 charges against Simard-Beaudry Construction Inc., 97 charges against Louisbourg Constructions Ltd. and 465 charges against Mr. Accurso in relation to his role as a director of the firms, among others.
In 2010, the Canada Revenue Agency obtained guilty pleas in 2010 from the construction companies, which acknowledged to having committed $4-million in tax fraud by claiming non-deductible expenses such as the construction of Mr. Accurso's yacht and jewellery purchases.