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Quebec Liberal headquarters was raided by anti-corruption unit in July, party says

A man makes his way into the Charbonneau Commission in Montreal on Sept. 3, 2013.

GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Quebec Liberal Party has confirmed anti-corruption investigators raided party headquarters this summer while the province's attention was riveted on a succession of resignations and arrests of big-city mayors.

Quebec's inquiry into corruption in government contracting and illegal party financing has only brushed past the Liberal Party of Quebec, but anti-corruption investigators moved on party headquarters in downtown Montreal in July.

Radio-Canada, which first reported on the raid Monday night, will go to court Friday to try to unseal the warrant outlining why investigators wanted to target Liberal headquarters.

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The Liberal Party issued a statement late Monday night confirming the raid, adding "the employees on the scene offered their full co-operation."

While the grounds for the search warrant are under court-ordered seal, the Charbonneau inquiry into Quebec corruption offered a glimpse at illegal fundraising by provincial parties to get around Quebec's ban on corporate donations. All parties were implicated, but Liberals collected most of the cash.

Construction boss Lino Zambito described collecting nearly $110,000 from "straw-man" donors in a single fundraiser which used unsuspecting spouses and other family members to launder donations.

Following Mr. Zambito's allegations, Quebec's chief electoral officer reported the parties collected $12.8-million in such donations between 2006 and 2011. The Liberals received $7.3-million of the money, with the balance going to opposition parties.

In the statement issued Monday, the Liberals said they have co-operated with police, the chief electoral officer and the Charbonneau Commission to make sure they are operating within the law. News of the raid Monday came after the Parti Québécois government tried shift attention back to Liberal ethics, and away from their divisive plan to ban some religious symbols from some public sector workplaces.

While news of the raid on Liberal headquarters was only revealed late in the day, PQ ministers and the opposition Coalition Avenir Québec blasted Liberal member of the National Assembly Pierre Marsan who sent a fundraising letter to a synagogue in a Montreal suburb reminding members of the benefits delivered by the Liberal government, including a permit for a publicly subsidized daycare.

The handout of daycare permits to Liberal donors is one of the scandals which embroiled the Liberal government of Jean Charest. "Once again they're using daycare permits to gain favour with some cultural communities," said PQ minister Pierre Duchesne.

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"It's scandalous,"said Gérald Deltell, a member of the CAQ.

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