Quebec’s auditor general has rejected a whistleblower’s claims of collusion at the anti-corruption squad, UPAC.
That whistleblower, an independent analyst, Annie Trudel has been in the headlines since the fall when her boyfriend, Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette, was arrested by UPAC. Trudel claimed the arrest was to cover up collusion.
In October 2017, UPAC arrested Ouellette, but did not press any charges. Days later, in a speech at the National Assembly, he said he was set up.
In this sit-down interview with Global News, Annie Trudel said UPAC was involved in a scheme with the financial markets authority (AMF).
She said the two organizations were colluding with a private consulting firm — forcing companies to pay exorbitant sums of money to get authorization to bid on public contracts.
“We were helping people who were stuck in a very bad situation between UPAC, the AMF and private consultants… and an MNA was arrested,” she said during that interview.
However, on Wednesday, the auditor general said Trudel’s claims are unfounded, according to her investigation.
“Everything can be possible, everywhere, but we haven’t identified anything,” said Guylaine Leclerc.
In response to the report on Wednesday, Trudel said she’s not surprised and that police might have had more results.
“Finding the proof is difficult,” she said. “Obviously, the general auditor and the police: they don’t have the same powers. And for a criminal investigation, the auditor general is not the right organization to do such a job.”
The auditor general didn’t find evidence of collusion, but nevertheless, her report on the AMF and UPAC is scathing.
Of the almost 4,000 requests for authorization to take on public contracts that the AMF received, they only rejected just 14 of them. The auditor general is concerned about the reason for so few rejections.
In one example, the AMF refused to give a business authorization, then approved when the company changed its name. In another case, the AMF authorized a company that was previously forced to pay Revenue Quebec more than $200,000 for false invoices. The AMF made its decision based on a letter of recommendation from the company’s own lawyer.
READ MORE: Guy Ouellette testifies in corruption trial
“Maybe there was not a scheme, but at least there was a lot of mismanagement,” said CAQ Leader Francois Legault.
Late afternoon, the minister responsible for the integrity of public contracts, Robert Poeti, held a press conference, but he didn’t speak about the report. Instead, he announced that five public institutions will now adopt one of the world’s top corruption-fighting tools.
The minister said it is just a coincidence that his announcement ended up on the same day as the auditor general’s report.
“The point is, we’ve been working on this thing the last seven, eight months,” Poeti said.
Getting the government to adopt this corruption-fighting tool has been a passion for Ouellette, who was mysteriously absent from the press conference.
“He was supposed to be here today, but at the last hour, he called us and it was not possible for him to come right now,” Poeti said.
However, only moments later, Ouellette passed journalists in the hallway with no explanation.