01/11/2013 11:21 EST | Updated 03/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum denies he's under investigation

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum said he is not under investigation by Quebec's anti-corruption commission.

The French newspaper Le Devoir has reported that Applebaum is being investigated by the Charbonneau commission over a real estate transaction in the city's Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.

Applebaum said the report is false and that he is working with the commission to clear up what has happened in the city in the past.

"I will continue to work as the mayor of Montreal and keep working on clearing corruption," Applebaum said at a news conference this afternoon.

The city's management has come under scrutiny in recent months as a result of the commission's hearings.

During its fall session, the inquiry toppled the longstanding mayors of Montreal and Laval, after damning testimony revealed pervasive corruption where the price of public projects were inflated and the proceeds split among companies, the Mafia, political parties and crooked bureaucrats.

New 'integrity' squad announced

Earlier in the day, Applebaum announced the creation of a special integrity squad to combat corruption at city hall.

Accompanied by the city's police chief, Applebaum said the squad will be independent and have carte blanche to investigate all city transactions, including real estate.

He said the new squad should be a warning to those who want to rip off taxpayers.

"City hall is now open," he said.

The squad, which will be called EPIM — L'escouade de protection de l'integrité municipale — will be made up of 20 employees, mostly experienced Montreal police officers. It will cost $3.2 million in its first year.

Applebaum said he expects the city will save $7 to $8 for every dollar invested in the squad.