Inquiry witness confirms collusion in Laval’s construction industry
MONTREAL – The latest witness to testify before the Charbonneau Commission confirmed Tuesday that he collected as much as $2.7 million in kickbacks.
Roger Desbois, a retired engineer from the consultancy firm AECOM-Tecsult, told the commission that between 2003 and 2009 he was responsible for collecting payments from local construction companies in Laval and transferring it to city hall – and the party of the city’s former mayor, Gilles Vaillancourt.
Desbois alleged that the former Laval city manager Claude Asselin had asked him to take on the task. The kickback process was straightforward. The head of Laval’s engineering department, Claude Deguise, would provide Desbois with an internal list of contracts, where some contracts had been marked with an ‘x.’ This indicated that the contract was rigged. Desbois would then contact the winning contractor and collect the kickback money.
According to Desbois, the system worked efficiently until Deguise was replaced in January 2008. With Jean Roberge now heading Laval’s engineering department, Desbois continued to receive a list, but the helpful notation indicating rigged companies would not be included.
Desbois was asked to confirm the construction companies involved in the Laval scheme. His list of about 21 companies included Asphalte Desjardins, Ciment Lavallée, Demix, DJL, Doncar, Les Entreprises VG, Jocelyn Dufresne Inc., Lavallée et Frères, Louisbourg, Mergard, Nepcon, Poly Excavation, Simard-Beaudry, Sintra and Timberstone, among others.
The money was paid to Desbois in his office. He noted that he took for granted that the amount would be correct and he did not count the money, which would then be put in a vault and delivered to Jean Bertrand, and later, to Pierre Lambert.
– With files from La Presse Canadienne
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