Tony Accurso and Jean Lavallée: Photo of union boss, magnate makes splash

A photograph of a high-powered union boss having his back washed by a construction magnate while on vacation caused a stir at Quebec's corruption inquiry on Monday.

Jean Lavallée was high-ranking member of FTQ union-federation for years

Jean Lavallée and Tony Accurso on a trip to the Virgin Islands in 2005. Lavallée told the Charbonneau Commission that he and Accurso have been friends for three decades. (Charbonneau commission)

A photograph of a high-powered union boss having his back washed by a construction magnate while on vacation caused a stir at Quebec's corruption inquiry on Monday.

The 2005 photo entered into evidence shows businessman Tony Accurso scrubbing the back of Jean Lavallée, a former head of the construction wing of Quebec's biggest labour federation.

Lavallée has a cigar in his mouth and has what appears to be soap or sunscreen on his back, arms and shoulders as the pair stand in waist-deep water with two other people.

"I don't know what you're doing exactly, if that's sunscreen or..." asked lawyer Cainnech Lussiaà-Berdou.

Lavallée said his memory was foggy on his second day of testimony at the Charbonneau Commission. (CBC)

The photo was shown as Lavallée spent his second day on the stand at the inquiry, which is looking at corruption and organized crime involvement in construction contracts, organized labour and political party financing.

Accurso has yet to appear before the inquiry, but is facing criminal charges including fraud and influence-peddling.

In recent months, the inquiry has taken an in-depth look at how organized crime infiltrated the FTQ through its construction wing.

Lavallée sat on the board of the federation's billion-dollar investment fund and is alleged to have tremendous sway at its real-estate investment arm. The fund was instrumental in financing numerous Accurso-led projects.

Lavallée called Accurso a friend of more than three decades.

He admitted he took about a half-dozen week-long, all-expenses-paid trips aboard Accurso's yacht, Touch, but denied the trips were in exchange for granting contracts.

"I didn't think it was a sin to go on a friend's boat," Lavallée said.

The photo was snapped in February 2005 in the Virgin Islands on a celebratory trip after a successful contract.

When asked by commissioner Renaud Lachance if he felt uncomfortable going on the luxury boat, Lavallée shrugged it off, saying it was a common practice at one time.

Lavallée, 73, returns to the stand on Tuesday.

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