MONTREAL - Quebec's corruption inquiry is taking a closer look at the easy access a now-retired construction boss had to some of the city's most powerful underworld figures.

Nicolo Milioto has denied being involved in organized crime or collecting Mafia taxes on behalf of the Rizzuto clan.

He was heard this morning on a wiretapped phone call to Paolo Renda in 2005, where he invited him and other high-ranking Mafia lieutenants to a birthday party for a Quebec construction mogul, Frank Catania.

Renda, the consigliere for the Rizzuto crime family, disappeared under suspicious circumstances in May 2010 and has not been found.

Milioto had said he only ever delivered money on behalf of Lino Zambito, another construction boss, and after raising funds for a community event.

Today, he reluctantly admitted to delivering money for an unknown reason to another construction boss — Catania — on behalf of Nick Rizzuto Sr.

Asked by the inquiry if he was viewed in the construction industry as a middleman, as the person who could provide entry into the clan's leadership, Milioto denied it.

A federal police investigation caught Milioto 236 times at Cafe Consenza, a noted Mafia hangout that is now closed, over a two-year span. He was seen delivering and counting stacks of cash on several occaisons at the cafe.

"I never hid that I knew the Rizzuto family, everyone knew it," Milioto said.

"I never hid from anyone that I went to Consenza."

Milioto, nicknamed "Mr. Sidewalk", says he now regrets having delivered money to Rizzuto Sr., the now-deceased patriarch of the Rizzuto family.

But he declared having respect for a "paisan," and for the man, who he said had treated him fairly. He said he never gained any advantages from that relationship.

He said he knew nothing of his Mafia ties, other than what he read and saw in the media about the man he shared coffee and played cards with.

He said his wife was aware he knew Rizzuto — and they even visited his home on one occaison. Milioto said that, like a good Italian wife, she never asked any questions.

However, Milioto said he never shared with his children that he had a relationship with Rizzuto, although he never actively hid it either.