09/04/2013 01:23 EDT | Updated 11/04/2013 05:12 EST

Laval auditor shocked by corrupt business practices

Laval’s auditor general said she was shocked by some of the practices she uncovered while compiling her annual report for 2012.

At a news conference on Wednesday morning, Michèle Galipeau said construction companies in Laval were setting their own prices on contracts.

Her report looked back at contracts completed between 2009 and 2012.

What’s more, she said, 99 per cent of all construction jobs awarded since 2009 were won by a rotating group of five companies.

Galipeau said Laval residents have lost confidence in their city hall. She said she’s working on a hotline for people to report possible corruption, but said more needs to be done to change the culture in Laval and make sure parties operate transparently.

Ex-mayor Gilles Vaillancourt resigned last November amid serious allegations of corruption. He was the mayor of Laval for 23 years, and for the last 10 of them, his PRO-des-Lavallois party was unopposed at city hall.

Vaillancourt’s name had come up a number of times at the province’s corruption inquiry, and he was arrested in May on 12 charges including gangsterism, conspiracy, fraud, influence peddling and breach of trust.

Key inquiry witness Lino Zambito testified Vaillancourt collected a 2.5 per cent kickback on all public works contracts.

At the time of his resignation, Vaillancourt continued to deny all allegations of corruption.

Vaillancourt’s interim replacement, Alexandre Duplessis, himself resigned in June after getting caught up in a scandal allegedly involving prostitution and extortion.

Auditor Galipeau said Laval City Hall has to take control back from construction firms by hiring more people to oversee cost estimates and to ensure any of the extras given on contracts are actually warranted.