Canadian construction boss appeals four-year jail sentence for bribery

Lawyers for Tony Accurso, the Quebec businessman found guilty of five charges related to corruption and fraud, have appealed the sentence of four years imprisonment, handed down last Thursday (5 July). 

Accurso, 66, has requested he remain at liberty on bail of US$115,000 while he waits for his appeal to be heard, in order to support his four children.

The request should be heard by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, according to Marc Labelle, Accurso’s lawyer.

Accurso was accused of being part of a system in which public contracts in the city of Laval were won by a small number of companies in return for kickbacks to the authorities.

Richard Rougeau, the prosecutor in the case, said Accurso had been part of a "well-honed" system of bribery and collusion. Between 1996 and 2010, the majority of construction contracts issued by the city of Laval were awarded before they were put to tender.

About 20 construction companies colluded in the scheme, which was masterminded by Gilles Vaillancourt, the mayor of Laval, and which ran for 14 years between 1996 and 2010. Vaillancourt is now serving a six-year sentence.

Labelle’s defence was that Accurso had not "orchestrated" the system, although two construction companies he owned had benefited from it. He asked for a conditional sentence of 18 to 24 months.

Vaillancourt was arrested following investigations by the Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry, otherwise known as the Charbonneau Commission, set up to investigate corruption and the influence of organised crime on the Canadian construction industry.

The city of Laval, in the north of Montreal, was one of a number of jurisdictions that were caught up in the probe, which found widespread evidence of wrongdoing. Two mayors of Montreal, Gérald Tremblay and Michael Applebaum, resigned as a result of the investigations.

Image: Tony Accurso at his court hearing (YouTube)

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