Quebec's corruption inquiry heard today that reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto made an astronomical profit from the sale of luxury condominiums for which he virtually paid pennies.
Inquiry investigator Eric Vecchio says Rizzuto bought the five condos for a symbolic $1 — which amounts to 20 cents each — and sold them for $1.7 million.
The commission led by Justice France Charbonneau is examining the reach and role of organized crime in major real estate deals and the influential role played by Rizzuto in some of these deals.
Wiretap conversations played at the inquiry focus on Rizzuto's efforts to salvage a prestigious Old Montreal luxury condo project when developer Tony Magi risked not being able to finish it because of financial problems.
Rizzuto got involved in 2002 when he was encouraged to intervene by some of Magi's partners.
Rizzuto saw the opportunity to make money as an arbiter and many of the wiretap conversations concern negotiating between partners, finding financing and ensuring the project was completed.
Vecchio says after paying welcome taxes of about $16,250, Rizzuto made a profit of approximately $1.6 million.
"When you consider that there was no initial financial investment, that's a good profit margin," Vecchio said Thursday.
Vecchio said the real estate dealings were part of the Rizzuto clan's efforts to insinuate itself into the legitimate side of
society and they sought to develop a network of promoters, business people and financiers.