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Most politicians honest, ex-construction boss says

10/22/2012 01:11 EDT | Updated 12/22/2012 05:12 EST
Former construction boss Lino Zambito, who wrapped up his testimony at the Charbonneau corruption inquiry last week, said he didn't cut any deals with the commission to avoid prosecution for his alleged crimes.

That was one of the revelations from the one-time owner of the construction firm Infrabec when he appeared on the popular talk show Tout le monde en parle, which aired on CBC's French-language television network Sunday night.

Zambito was greeted like a hero by an enthusiastic audience, although he is still facing charges for fraud and bribery.

He acknowledged that he'd tried to strike a deal with the prosecution to avoid a criminal trial, but without success — and he says he's now ready to face justice.

"I made no deals," he said.

Zambito's company went bankrupt in the wake of the charges against him, but he said in hindsight, he's glad to be out of the world of shady construction dealings.

He said he hopes his three children will see him as a man who helped reform a corrupt system. He now wants simply to return to private life.

Zambito's revelations before the commission sent shockwaves across the province — especially in Montreal and Laval, where Infrabec got most of its contracts. He alleged Laval's longtime mayor, Gilles Vaillancourt, routinely pocketed 2.5 per cent of that city's contracts.

He dubbed a former engineer in Montreal's public works department, Gilles Surprenant, Monsieur TPS — or "Tax for Surpenant," a play on the acronym for the federal sales tax. That seemed particularly apt, after Surprenant admitted accepting $600,000 in bribes to inflate the cost of city contracts over the years.

However, Zambito told the television audience he believes most politicians are oblivious to the shady dealings he contends he and other construction entrepreneurs took part in.

"There are a lot of politicians who are in politics that are honest," Zambito said. "Eighty per cent of politicians don't know what's going on."

Asked if Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay is aware of what's gone on in his administration, Zambito said the allegations he's made have been around for years.

"After one, two, three, four, five, ten times, I think that he sees them as we do," Zambito said. "He can no longer deny that he isn't aware of them."

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