11/21/2012 22:28 EST | Updated 01/21/2013 05:12 EST

Entrepreneur tried creating his own collusion group, inquiry hears

A former construction contractor told the province's corruption inquiry he tried to set up his own system of collusion in Blainville, an off-island suburb northwest of Montreal, because he was being excluded from operating in Montreal.

André Durocher, told the Charbonneau commission Wednesday that the alleged collusion in Quebec's construction industry involved engineering firms, suppliers and some insurance brokers, all of whom controlled the awarding of public works contracts.

Tuesday, Durocher, the former head of Excavations Panthère, testified that he had been victim of a tough system of intimidation and violence in the Montreal area.

He said he attempted to launch his own collusion ring but failed.

Durocher explained that he gathered about 20 entrepreneurs at the Ramada Inn in Blainville on May 10, 2008 to find a way to take control of the system.

"For every project, an entrepreneur from Montreal or Laval would arrive in a limousine to make a bid, while we didn't get the opportunity to make money on the contracts," said Durocher. "It's the only way to survive. We don't have the chance to go work at Laval or Montreal for more money."

Durocher told the commission that the meeting turned sour once discussion turned to the awarding of contracts in cities like Boisbriand and Mascouche.

"The meeting ended after two hours and a half of wasted time. On Monday morning, the war was started again with the entrepreneurs. That was it. I concluded I wasn't a good mediator for collusion," said Durocher.

In October, Lino Zambito, the former owner of construction company Infrabec, testified that the scheme had worked for no more than two or three months in Mirabel, Blainville and Saint-Jérôme.

He told the commission that the collusion ring crumbled because Durocher failed to call on important entrepreneurs like ABC River-Nord, Asphalte Desjardins and Simard-Beaudry, to join the group.

Durocher testified he attempted the scheme despite warnings from family members who were also involved in his company. He said he acted because he was in "survival mode.