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Stunning testimony continues on construction industry in Quebec

The Charbonneau Commission of inquiry into corruption in Quebec's construction industry resumed this week, with startling testimony and allegations continuing to fly. Consulting engineering companies in the province have not escaped unscathed.


The Charbonneau Commission of inquiry into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry resumed this week, with startling testimony and allegations continuing to fly. Consulting engineering companies in the province have not escaped unscathed.

Lino Zambito, a former construction company executive whose company, Infrabec, went bankrupt in 2011 resumed his place on the stand on Monday, October 15. Zambito’s company was active in municipal works such as sewers.

According to reports in the Montreal Gazette, at Monday’s hearings Zambito said that he and others in the industry made huge donations to political parties, illegally funneling them through family members and employees.

“I fixed contracts. I financed political parties. I corrupted officials,” Zambito said, as quoted in the newspaper. He also told the commissioners: “… the system was constructed such that you had no choice … the system is sick and corrupted.”

In earlier testimony he has suggested that in a truly competitive market a company would need to bid a price near cost to land a contract and so the meager profits wouldn’t make it worthwhile.

In the fallout from the corruption allegations, which include testimony that Mafia were involved in bid rigging and other pursuits, the city of Montreal has decided not to accept any bid for a contract that is 15% above what the city estimates the cost of the work should be.

The board of directors of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Quebec (AICQ) is working on making a presentation to the Charbonneau Commission in the next few weeks.