Quebec bureaucrat and a businessman arrested by anti-corruption police
QUEBEC CITY – There was more trouble at the Quebec Public Security Ministry on Friday.
Officers from Quebec’s anti-corruption police squad (UPAC) arrested two people Friday morning, including a high-ranking civil servant suspected of conspiring to defraud the government.
Abdelaziz Younsi, the ministry’s IT director, is accused of breach of trust and fraud in the awarding of a $3.3-million contract for the purchase of computers. The value of the fraud was set at $400,000.
“It leaves people with a bad impression,” said Public Security Minister Lise Thériault. “Because he worked at public security, but really it reinforces the message that no one is above the law.”
Thériault’s day didn’t get much better. She faced a barrage of questions at the National Assembly related to her ministry’s spending estimates. The opposition raised issues of political nominations at the SQ, cell phones in jails, who lied to her about the prison break and who else in her ministry might be plotting to defraud the government.
“Is it an isolated case?” wondered the Coalition Avenir Quebec’s Justice and Integrity Critic, Nathalie Roy.
“It’s really preoccupying. We are talking about an important ministry and we want to know if there are other employees under investigation.”
“She’s not in control, you can tell,” added Parti Quebecois Public Security Critic Pascal Bérubé.
“Even the people who are with her in the assembly today, working with her, have weird faces when she’s answering so that tells me a lot.”
Later, Thériault fought to regain control and confirmed Abdelaziz Younsi and EBR informatique CEO Mohamed El Khayat never had access to confidential government or police documents.
“I can tell you, without a doubt, that these people never had an access code,” Thériault said.
She also noted that the investigation began after the anti-corruption squad got a tip, emphasizing the importance of blowing the whistle when it comes to possible cases of collusion and corruption.
The two suspects have now been released and ordered to appear in court on September 8, 2014.
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