Lino Zambito, a main witness in the Charbonneau Commission in 2012, has published a new book containing alarming allegations.
The former construction boss testified to the commission that companies paid kickbacks to municipal politicians and the mafia for public contracts. Zambito now claims the province’s corruption watchdog sat on important evidence.
“The Charbonneau inquiry didn’t bring some people in to witness which was a part of…a lot of the financing of the Liberal Party of Quebec,” Zambito said.
In his book, Le Temoin, Zambito alleges then-premier Jean Charest’s office routinely communicated with the head of UPAC, and so the anti-corruption police turned a blind eye on activities of top Liberal fundraiser, Marc Bibeau.
“Marc Bibeau told me that when it’s time to nominate ministers in the (premier’s) offices he’s involved directly,” said Zambito. “He’s the one who’s raising money and he has an influence on the people that are going to run the province.”
After testifying at the Charbonneau Commission, Zambito pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption charges and was sentenced to community service, but he denies he’s out to settle a score: “I’m doing my sentence right now. It’s not revenge.”
Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisée said Zambito’s claims offer one more instance of the Liberals and police colluding.
“We have another layer of allegations about shenanigans between the Liberal government and the police,” said Lisée.
Zambito wants greater independence of police in the province, and opposition parties agree.
“We propose that UPAC will be completely independent and that its commissioner be appointed by two thirds of the (National) Assembly,” said Lisée.
The CAQ wants the Liberals to be forced to open their books. They’re calling on the premier to order an independent audit of his party’s finances.
“If Mr. Couillard really wants to make a difference from Jean Charest, he has to do a clean-up,” said Francois Legault, leader of the CAQ.
During Thursday’s Question Period, Premier Couillard denied that anyone in his cabinet has ever discussed the nature of investigations with any police force.
Liberal MNA Robert Poeti said he’s not dismissing the allegations.
“We’re going to follow the case and I’m going to read the book and talk to you later,” he said Thursday morning. Poeti added he has full confidence in UPAC.