A longtime provincial Liberal organizer told Quebec's corruption inquiry Tuesday he had suicidal thoughts after being implicated in allegedly illegal party financing schemes in 2012.
Pierre Bibeau, now a senior vice-president at Loto-Quebec, denied any wrongdoing and insisted the allegations had nearly caused him to have a mental breakdown.
Construction boss Lino Zambito testified at the Charbonneau Commission in October 2012 that he gave Bibeau $30,000 in cash at his Loto-Quebec office.
He also told the corruption probe he attended a $1,000-per-plate fundraising brunch he said Bibeau organized in April 2009 for his spouse, then-Liberal cabinet minister Line Beauchamp.
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Bibeau, who became a Liberal organizer in 1978, said he never saw cash flowing around the party between 2001 and 2003 when he was chief organizer.
He tried to downplay his role as a fundraiser and denied raising money for Beauchamp, although he says he did accompany her to events as her spouse.
He also said he theoretically did not have the right to engage in partisan fundraising while serving as an executive at Loto-Quebec because it is a Crown corporation.
Bibeau did acknowledge he met with Zambito at his Loto-Quebec office but denied he was given cash.
He said Zambito asked him to intervene on his behalf in a zoning problem he was having in Boisbriand, north of Montreal.
Asked why Zambito would see him about the matter, Bibeau replied that the construction mogul thought he was important in the Liberal party.
Bibeau's testimony sometimes appeared confused and he occasionally stammered and looked uncomfortable under questioning.
Commission head France Charbonneau intervened several times to express skepticism about his answers.
One time he appeared befuddled as he related a complex story about emptying his safety deposit boxes 11 days after Zambito finished his testimony before the commission.
Bibeau said one box was empty and the other contained only papers.
Asked, if that were the case, why he would bother emptying them, Bibeau replied: "I was in shock."
"My reputation. I was being seen to because I was having suicidal thoughts," he said. "I also cancelled my line of credit ... I was not in a normal state. I was trying to forget my past."
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Bibeau replied "no" when asked if one of the boxes contained the $30,000 given to him by Zambito.
He then added, "I checked to see if I had been to the boxes and to see if he had given me $30,000 in April. (Had I received the money), I would have been to the safety deposit boxes within days. And I had not been there."
Bibeau also cheerfully admitted he gave free tickets for
Loto-Quebec-sponsored events to Liberal friends and entrepreneurs without asking for anything in return.
The events included the Canadian Grand Prix, the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, the Just for Laughs comedy festival and events at the Bell Centre.