Montreal

Montreal to file 40 lawsuits in effort to reclaim collusion cash

The City of Montreal will soon be filing about 40 lawsuits against construction companies and politicians in an effort to recover money lost through collusion schemes over the last 20 years.

City will file civil lawsuits against individuals, companies that didn't participate in voluntary repayment

It's not yet clear exactly which companies the City of Montreal will be pursuing. (Luc Lavigne/Radio-Canada)

The City of Montreal will soon be filing about 40 lawsuits against construction companies and politicians in an effort to recuperate money lost through collusion schemes over the last 20 years.

The civil suits will target some former elected officials, but the majority of lawsuits are against companies that did not collaborate with the voluntary repayment program set up by the Quebec government in November 2015.

The voluntary payment plan was established to allow businesses that have defrauded taxpayers on public contracts to pay back a portion of the money.

At the time, the city mailed letters to 380 select companies that it had dealings with dating back to 1996, asking to be reimbursed 20 per cent of the total value of all contracts in order to avoid future lawsuits or other penalties.

Under a law passed unanimously in the National Assembly in March 2015, companies that don't come forward with the money could be subject to lawsuits. They could also be refused the right to bid on contracts with Montreal.

A total of eight companies, including SNC-Lavalin, Dessau and Construction Frank Catania and Associates Inc., stated publicly their intention to take part in the program.

It's not yet clear exactly which companies or which former elected officials the city of Montreal will be suing.

Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée will submit a public report in June detailing the implementation of the voluntary program. The report will disclose the names of companies that participated and the total amount of money recovered.

Radio-Canada learned that through the same program, the City of Laval was able to reclaim around $20 million.

With files from CBC's Lauren McCallum, Radio-Canada's Benoît Chapdelaine and Jérôme Labbé

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