Montreal bureaucrat says he accepted $600,000 in kickbacks
Published Thursday, October 18, 2012 11:35AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 18, 2012 5:18PM EDT
MONTREAL -- A retired city of Montreal engineer says he collected kickbacks in cash worth more than $600,000 from construction companies over about 20 years.
Gilles Surprenant took the stand at the Charbonneau Commission today, following up on eight days of headline-grabbing testimony by ex-construction boss Lino Zambito.
Zambito alleged that Surprenant, a chief city planner for many years who prepared plans and budgets for public works projects, skimmed one per cent for himself on certain contracts.
Surprenant did not specify anything about the one per cent but admitted his first "cut" was an envelope he received with $3,000 or $4,000 from an entrepreneur in 1991 for a contract he helped pass at city hall.
Inquiry investigators have identified at least 90 contracts where Surprenant got a cut over the years.
But Surprenant says he was always uncomfortable taking the kickbacks and that he blew almost half at the casino, which he described as a way of putting the money back into government coffers.
Some of the cash went to help his three children and some was lost in a deal to help a construction company.
As for the $123,000 that remained of the cash, Surprenant said he gave it to inquiry investigators in August, adding that it brought him a great sense of relief.