Canadian prosecutors have dropped a fraud case against a former construction executive and four others after a nine-year legal battle.
In 2018, Tony Accurso, 69, was found guilty on five charges relating to the letting of public contracts by the city of Laval in Montreal. These covered the years between 1996 and 2010 and included conspiracy to commit acts of corruption, conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud, municipal corruption and aiding in a breach of trust.
In particular, Accurso was found guilty of making a US$200,000 bribe to Revenue Canada agents to avoid paying tax.
In October 2020, Accurso and several companies connected with him were ordered to pay $3.4m after pleading guilty to tax fraud. Accurso had pleaded guilty to making false tax declarations between 2006 and 2010 and was fined almost $1.6m.
He was sentenced to four years in prison, but was released after a week following the launch of an appeal against his conviction (see further reading).
Prosecutor Francois Blanchette told a Quebec court this week that the Crown would not be able to meet a deadline to release evidence against Accurso and his co-defendants.
Quebec court Judge Melanie Hebert had ordered the prosecution to divulge documents from 600 boxes of documents seized by the Revenue Canada 12 years ago before. However, Blanchette said his office was unable to meet the deadline, which was imposed by a 2016 Supreme Court decision that capped the length of trials.
Blanchette said there were too many documents, and his office did not have the resources to analyse them in time.
He commented: "We came to the conclusion that, unfortunately for us, for the state, we could not continue the proceedings in this case. We must act like officers of the law and put our emotions aside and do what we think is the best thing in the case and act fairly for the litigants."
Image: Tony Accurso at his 2018 court hearing (YouTube)