Corruption inquiry probes meetings at exclusive Montreal club
Liberal lawyer objects to release of 2 names
Quebec's corruption commission has turned its attention to the visitors records for an exclusive Montreal club where high-ranking city officials met with construction entrepreneurs and may have exchanged money.
The former head of Montreal's executive committee, Frank Zampino, city engineer Luc Leclerc, and bureaucrats Robert Marcil and Yves Theberge were all identified as guests of construction bosses dating back to 2005 at Club 357c in the city's Old Port.
The list was part of the evidence entered during the testimony of commission investigator Erick Roy.
Roy, a provincial police officer, had previously been assigned as a team leader on Opération Marteau, the specialized squad created in 2009 to investigate allegations of collusion and corruption in the construction industry.
As Roy spoke at the commission, he alluded to testimony heard by an earlier witness about meetings and cash exchanges that took place at an upscale private club. At that time, the club wasn't named.
Elio Pagliarulo, a former bakery chain owner who said he ran a loan-sharking scheme with Paolo Catania, testified about bringing envelopes of cash to a private club.
He described one time when he had brought $100,000 to the club to meet Catania, who was a member. He said he saw Zampino as he was leaving the club and said the understanding was the money was intended for the former executive committee head.
Zampino has denied those allegations.
Gilles Vézina, a suspended city employee who testified before the commission earlier this month, said he accepted an invitation to meet Nicolo Milioto at 357c.
The construction entrepreneur has been identified in the testimony of several witnesses at the commission and has been described as the middleman between the construction industry, the Montreal Mafia and city officials.
Roy said commission investigators went to the club in late October after hearing Pagliarulo's testimony, with the aim of searching its extensive visitor database.
Roy described 375c as extremely exclusive. The only way to get in, he said, is to be a member or be the guest of a member.
Members can plan events such as dinners or cocktail parties at the club. They give a list of invitees to the staff who then send invitations. People who arrive for events must be on the list and must identify themselves, Roy told the commission.
All that information is recorded in the club's database, he said, for the purpose of providing superior service to its guests.
More of that list is expected to be released when the commission hearing resumes tomorrow.
Liberal Party objection
The lawyer representing the Quebec Liberal Party brought a temporary halt to corruption commission proceedings this afternoon by objecting to the release of names found in the club's records.
Lawyer Michel Décary asked for a publication ban on the names of two people, one an elected official and another whose identity wasn't disclosed.
Décary said he wasn't at the hearing this morning and hadn't been able to reach the two affected individuals.
His objection drew a strong response from commissioner France Charbonneau, who scolded the lawyer for delaying the proceedings.
She said even if he wasn't present at the hearing, another Liberal Party lawyer was there.
After a break of nearly an hour, it was announced that the individuals would be contacted and their names released tomorrow.