Montreal businessman Tony Papa doesn't like to be called an informant.
But over three interviews spanning a total of 5½ hours, Papa, a close friend of Montreal Mafia figures, voluntarily provided information to investigators at Quebec's securities regulator — the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).
A joint fifth estate/Enquête investigation has obtained the audio tapes from the AMF's April 2013 interviews with Papa.
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"Yes, I can help you nail whoever the hell you want to nail," Papa tells the AMF investigators on the recording.
"Yes, I do know what the f--k goes on. Yes. That's why ask me a straight question, I'll give you a straight answer."
In the interviews, the AMF tells Papa that he and a number of others are under investigation by the AMF for alleged manipulation of the penny stock markets.
Papa owns a hair salon in the west end of Montreal.
He is also a former restaurateur, ran a successful collection agency and has made money trading penny stocks. Papa was also a close friend of some of Montreal's top Mafia figures
'Respected them both'
"I did have a restaurant where I did meet a lot of people — I did meet Mr. Vito Rizzuto and Mr. Moreno Gallo, personal friends," Papa told the fifth estate's Gillian Findlay.
"And I respected them both very much. But that's as far as it went."
Rizzuto, former reputed head of the Sicilian Mafia in Montreal, died of lung cancer in 2013. That same year, Gallo, another top underworld figure in Montreal and convicted murderer, was gunned down in Mexico.
Papa has never been charged with any involvement in organized crime activity.
"I have never been a member of the Mafia and I have no intention of being a member of the Mafia," Papa told the fifth estate's Findlay
But his name has come up in connection with police investigations into the Montreal Mafia.
In 2005, RCMP Project Colisée wiretapped the infamous Rizzuto hangout — the Consenza Social Club. In one recording, reputed organized crime figures Joe and Paolo Renda are caught on tape complaining angrily about Papa, alleging he had "fraudulently transferred" three million stock shares.
In the transcript, Joe Renda is quoted as wanting "permission to grab Tony Papa alone, we put him in a basement."
Papa says Renda denied that.
"He denied it completely when I asked him. I didn't see the wiretaps, I didn't see anything. That's the only thing that came out of Colisée, that had my name on it, nothing else," Papa told the fifth estate.
In the AMF interviews, Papa says he is willing to co-operate with the securities regulator if it is kept confidential and "you guys can help me with some of my other problems as well."
Papa is not clear about what those other problems are, but as well as being investigated by the AMF, in 2013 Papa was also dealing with a Canada Revenue Agency audit that claimed he owed millions. Papa paid $6 million.
But Papa told the fifth estate "my Revenue Canada problems were already settled" by the time he met with the AMF that year.
So was Papa an informant for the AMF?
"Absolutely not," says Papa. "I'm not an informant. I was never an informant all my life. Not about to be an informant now. "
During the interviews, the AMF and Papa talk about a number of penny stock deals and the Quebec promoters involved in them.
'I made it very clear'
But instead of providing evidence against alleged market manipulators, Papa says he was simply trying to sell the AMF on the idea of having him collect millions of dollars in funds for the public agency.
"I made it very clear. I'll charge you 50 per cent. Everything I collect I keep 50, I give you back 50 per cent," Papa tells the fifth estate.
And just how did he intend to collect the money for Quebec's securities regulator?
"Oh that I'm good for," Papa insists. "I did that all my life. I was probably one of the most successful people in the collection business."
The AMF declined to be interviewed for this story, citing ongoing legal actions.
"Dan and Carol Get Busted" airs on the fifth estate Friday, Nov. 25 at 9 p.m.
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