NEWS
09/05/2014 09:37 EDT | Updated 11/05/2014 05:59 EST

Tony Accurso back after cliffhanger ending at corruption inquiry

Former Quebec construction magnate Tony Accurso returns to the witness box for a fourth day of questioning today, and is likely to face deeper questions about his links to the Quebec Liberal Party. 

Accuro's testimony finished Thursday with a photo of Accurso embracing former Quebec premier Jean Charest. The photo was snapped before Charest was elected during a party fundraising event at Accurso's Laval, Que. restaurant.

He told the commission he simply provided the venue for the event, and wasn't involved in the actual donation collection. 

Accurso also told the commission about his other interactions with provincial politicians — that he went to the office of then PQ transport minister Guy Chevrette and asked for him to reconsider the public-private-partnerships (PPP) it was seeking for large road projects. 

The witness insisted that his interest in changing the PPP system wasn't selfish — all Quebec entrepreneurs were being undercut by foreign financing, he said, and it wasn't fair. 

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With prompting from wiretap recordings of his phone calls, Accurso also told the commission about his September 2012 blacklisting from the Hydro-Québec tendering process, a decision that was visibly still distressing for Accurso.

After a series of phone calls to high-ranking union friends and former insiders, all caught on tape, Accurso said someone close to the PQ told him office of newly elected premier Pauline Marois ordered the blacklisting.

Accurso was called to testify about his time as the head of one of the province's largest construction firms and his role in an alleged system of collusion that rigged the bidding process for public contracts. 

The former construction boss has spent much of his time at the inquiry denying allegations of influence peddling.

Accurso faces an array of criminal charges related to the awarding of municipal contracts in the municipalities of Mascouche and Laval, and argued that testifying would jeopardize his right to a fair trial.

Accurso and his companies are also charged with tax fraud.

Key testimony mentioning Tony Accurso:

- Two witnesses have alleged Accurso met with mob boss Vito Rizzuto on two different occasions to talk business.

- The inquiry heard allegations Accurso had a close relationship with members of the powerful FTQ union federation, including the former president, Michel Arsenault, as well as allegations the construction entrepreneur received preferential treatment from the FTQ's publicly funded investment fund.

- Accurso's name came up repeatedly when the inquiry examined the way public contracts were awarded in Montreal. Former president of the city's executive committee Frank Zampino met with Accurso frequently while a lucrative water-meter contract was being negotiated, and vacationed on the businessman's boat three times.  

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