Corruption inquiry witness explains how Montreal’s asphalt cartel worked
MONTREAL – On Thursday, Gilles Théberge, a witness at Quebec’s corruption inquiry and a former high-ranking employee of the construction firm Sintra, described how the asphalt cartel operated in the Montreal area.
He told the inquiry that in 2000, the presidents of four companies: Sintra, DJL, Simard-Beaudry and Beaver Asphalt, met to set the price of the raw materials used in asphalt production and to fix how much would be produced.
Sintra president, Daniel Ducroix, had brought him along to the meeting in the hopes that Théberge could arrange how the system would function at his level of management.
Théberge noted that in his opinion, “it was the first time that there was a conspiracy as big as that.” He acknowledged that there had been systems set up before this, but none were as elaborate or as binding.
In his testimony, Théberge was clear: in free competition, the gross profit is 4 to 8 per cent, but with collusion profit is “at least 30 per cent or more.”
On the night of June 15, 2000, a bomb made from several sticks of dynamite blew up the Théberge’s car at his home in Lorraine.
Watch raw video from the car bomb explosion here.
His first instinct was not to call the police to advise them that his car had exploded, but to call Ducroix to tell him the news and that he believed the collusion had gone too far.
In the hours that followed the car bombing, Théberge also called construction magnate Antonio Accurso, who denied any knowledge of who might be responsible.
The day before, Théberge had attended the opening of the Onyx restaurant in Laval, where Accurso and several other construction entrepreneurs were also present.
During the party, Théberge alleged that he was approached by Giuseppe Borsellino from the firm, Garnier Construction, who asked Sintra to back off a $4 million contract in Saint-Laurent, so that his company could have it. Nothing was agreed and the two did not meet again, as Théberge later left his job at Sintra because of the car bombing.
– With files from La Presse Canadienne
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