Notary collects millions for Canadian Mayor, denies knowledge of corrupt system
Published Tuesday, June 18, 2013 10:07AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 18, 2013 12:33PM EDT
A notary who worked in Laval admits he collected millions of dollars destined for Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, but says he was not part of a corrupt system.”I fully deny being part of the collusion system in Laval, and will deny it until the day I die,” testified Jean Gauthier.The notary says he funneled cash from engineers and contractors it to the mayor’s PRO des Lavallois Party, however he could not explain why engineering firms were giving him money and he claims he never asked questions.
“I played the role of go-between for engineering firms that brought cash, illegal cash from engineers to the party,” Gauthier told the Charbonneau commission.
Gauthier even tried to claim that he was no friend of the then-mayor.
“I never even sat down for a face-to-face dinner with Gilles Vaillancourt,” said Gauthier, although he later admitted that he had gone to dinner at Vaillancourt’s home, but said that was before he became mayor.
But on Tuesday the corruption inquiry’s lawyers reminded the witness that many other engineers said that Gauthier knew exactly why he was collecting money.
Justice France Charbonneau, the woman leading the inquiry, pointedly questioned Gauthier, even asking “are you willing to swear the same about never discussing this with Vaillancourt?”
It was only after repeated question that Gauthier admitted that he knew anything illegal was going on, but he then immediately dismissed any possible wrongdoing as the normal state of affairs.
“Unfortunately it’s routine. It is like speed limits on the highway. We go 120 km/h when the limit is 100. It’s unfortunate. I hope the commission will correct it,” said Gauthier.
According to Stephane Giroux, it appears Justice Charbonneau is convinced that Gauthier is doing his utmost to protect Vaillancourt.
The Inquiry wraps up this week before taking a summer break from public hearings, but will hear from another witness who is accused of criminal activity.
Claude Asselin is a former general manager for the city of Laval and he also worked for the Dessau engineering firm.
He was arrested in May, one of 37 people arrested along with Vaillancourt and charged with a litany of crimes including gangsterism, corruption, and breach of trust.
Asselin was also named this week as a key figure in the warrants that led to the arrest of Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum.
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