Tony Accurso quits the construction business

Quebec construction boss Tony Accurso is leaving the business following a year of arrests and corruption allegations.

Magnate facing a dozen criminal charges says departure will result in restructuring

Construction magnate leaves the industry amidst corruption allegations. 1:15

Quebec construction magnate Tony Accurso, who faces a string of criminal charges and whose companies have been under the gun at Quebec's corruption inquiry, says he is leaving the business.

Accurso confirmed the news in a release Tuesday afternoon.

In a letter to employees that he made public, the 60-year-old Accurso said it's time to leave his conglomerate in the hands of younger and more energetic people, and it will be better off without him.

He apologized for the public controversy swirling around his group of companies.

"I'm sorry for the turmoil in which the group has found itself in recent years, and for the anxieties and repercussions it's caused for each of you," he wrote.

"My decision to resign is matched by a hope to see the companies continue to participate actively in construction in Quebec."

Accurso's letter said his departure will result in a "restructuring" and that details will be announced soon.

In an exclusive interview with French-language newspaper La Presse, Accurso said he had no choice but to leave for the good of the company. Accurso described his construction empire as "the jewel of Quebec" and valued it at more than $1 billion.

He told the newspaper he has hired a consulting firm to help chart his consortium's future, and he's not ruling out a merger, a sale or splitting the companies up.

Charged with fraud and forgery

Accurso and the companies he is connected to — including Simard-Beaudry, Louisbourg Construction, Banister Pipeline Construction and Marton Construction — have had a hand in almost every major construction project in Montreal over the last five decades.

He has been a target of the province's anti-corruption squad, and his name has surfaced at the Charbonneau commission investigating allegations of corruption in the construction industry. He denies the allegations. 

Accurso became a household name in Montreal a few years ago, after it was revealed politicians responsible for awarding contracts vacationed on his yacht. Since then, Accurso has been arrested twice.

Last April, he was charged with fraud, conspiracy, influence peddling, breach of trust and two counts of defrauding the government. Investigators with Quebec's anti-corruption unit, UPAC, said evidence showed public officials benefited from gifts and money given in exchange for favourable decisions and privileged information.

In early August, Accurso was arrested on charges linked to a multimillion-dollar tax-evasion conspiracy, and was released by police the same day.

Companies controlled by his family have been convicted of tax fraud, ordered to pay $8 million in fines and back taxes, and had their licences suspended.

Accurso's daughter, Lisa Accurso, has taken over control of much of the day to day running of the family's business in recent years.