10/30/2012 11:04 EDT | Updated 12/30/2012 05:12 EST

17 more arrests in raids linked to Quebec construction industry

MONTREAL - Quebec provincial police have arrested 16 people in a series of raids connected to an alleged multimillion-dollar fraud scheme in the construction industry.

The latest wave of arrests in the province's scandal-plagued industry was announced Tuesday and police said they expected to nab a 17th person soon.

The raids stemmed from an investigation that started last year into a vast scheme involving false billing by companies involved in the industry.

Police suspect the scheme allowed the perpetrators to pocket around $9.5 million.

According to testimony heard at Quebec's ongoing public inquiry, construction companies regularly use false billing schemes to raise cash for a variety of illegal purposes. Inquiry witnesses have testified, for example, that cash payments are later doled out to political parties and the Mafia.

Charges to be laid against the 17 accused include gangsterism, fabrication of false documents, and conspiracy.

The early-morning raids were carried out in several cities and towns. Police were accompanied in their swoop by agents from the provincial Revenue Department.