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Corruption commission witness admits he lied in testimony

05/13/2013 01:40 EDT | Updated 07/13/2013 05:12 EDT
A former political fixer returned to the witness box at the province's corruption commission this morning and opened his remarks with an admission that he lied in previous testimony.

Gilles Cloutier told the commission that he wasn't honest when he said he owned a home in Pointe-au-Pic, Que. that came up in his testimony at the beginning of the month before the commission took a scheduled break.

"I still say all the other things I said in my testimony are the truth," he told the commission this morning.

On May 2, Cloutier testified that he bought the home in the Charlevoix region for $200,0000 and later sold it for $400,000.

Today, he admitted he actually rented the house and sometimes sublet it out to others or loaned it to clients. He said he had a verbal agreement with the owner, but no formal lease.

Cloutier told the commission that he rented the place for more than 10 years and it was just habit to say that he was the owner. He also said it was a matter of pride.

On May 2, Cloutier told the commission that he bought the home in the Charlevoix region for $200,0000 and later sold it for $400,000.

He said he used the house to entertain Roche clients and for his own personal use. Cloutier also said Roche paid for some of the upkeep, including housekeepers. Cloutier used to work for Roche.

Cloutier said he was "sad" to have lied to the commission and came forward with the admission after he met with commission investigators last Thursday who presented him with the inconsistency.

The issue became a pivotal point for the lawyer representing the Parti Québécois, Estelle Tremblay, who returned to grill Cloutier on what other things he may have fabricated in his testimony.

Tremblay returned several times to a cocktail fundraiser Cloutier says he organized in 2000 or 2001, during which, he testified, $15,000 was raised for the PQ.

The event was organized in the Prévost riding of Lucie Papineau and was attended by Papineau and former transport minister Guy Chevrette as well as 15 guests who included several construction entrepreneurs.

Those funds don't appear anywhere in the party's records and the donors Cloutier identified did not declare those donations with the chief electoral officer.

Tremblay told the commission that no one remembers the event and it didn't appear in the agenda of Papineau.

Cloutier insisted the event took place and that one of the guests could verify that fact. He couldn't, however, remember the exact date it took place, but said some of the donations were made in cash.

Cloutier has admitted to working for years as a political organizer on behalf of engineering firms to ensure victories for candidates in exchange for contracts for his employer.

His testimony touched on a number of allegations about political misdeeds, including illegal fundraising for the “No” side in the 1995 referendum.

He said he organized hundreds of municipal election campaigns throughout Quebec, using a formula he developed to get out the vote and help clinch victory for his clients

He also testified about his involvement with the PQ and the Liberals. He accused Chevrette of "scheming" in the expansion project of Highway 125. He said the minister told him that he'd like a particular firm to win the lucrative contract.

- Politicians react to Cloutier's explosive Charbonneau testimony

He also said Roche helped that firm to win the contract through bid fixing.

Cloutier told the commission he paid $25,000 to Gilles Beaulieu, an associate of Chevrette's, in connection with that project. Cloutier added that another of his colleagues gave $75,000 to Beaulieu.

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