Sometimes the old expression “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” can be literal.
See the picture above? The guy in the middle, smoking the cigar, is Jean Lavallée, the former head of Quebec’s most powerful construction union. The guy to his right, scrubbing his back, is Tony Accurso, a construction magnate currently awaiting trial on fraud, conspiracy and influence-peddling charges.
Pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
Lavallée admitted at Quebec’s ongoing corruption inquiry Monday that he took at least five vacations on Accurso’s yacht, and the construction magnate paid every time. Each week is estimated to have been worth about $70,000.
“It was another time. … It wasn't sinful back in the day to accept such things," Lavallée added, before inquiry co-chairman Renaud Lachance pointed out that the yacht is fewer than 10 years old.
According to CTV News, the inquiry wants to know why Lavallée, as head of the Quebec Federation of Labour’s construction union, presided over the creation of a real estate investment fund to which Accurso had access, and why construction bosses like Accurso had control over an investment fund created with union workers’ money.
Accurso was arrested twice in recent years, once by Quebec’s anti-corruption squad, to face charges including, fraud and influence-peddling. Revenue Quebec has also charged him with some 900 offences relating to a $3-million tax evasion scheme.
Accurso could face fines of up to $8.5 million, plus prison time over the tax charges.
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