Montreal

Montreal planning to file $26M lawsuit against Tony Accurso, Frank Zampino

The documents state that between 2001 and 2009, the defendants, including the ex-construction boss and executive committee head, rigged the contract-bidding process for projects involving sewers, aqueducts, asphalt and sidewalks.

City to sue former executive committee chair, construction firms by end of week

Tony Accurso was found guilty of charges including fraud over $5,000 and municipal corruption during a trial that wrapped up last year. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

The City of Montreal is getting set to a file a $26-million lawsuit against construction magnate Tony Accurso and Frank Zampino, the former second-in-command at city hall.

The city's executive committee approved the legal action at this morning's meeting. City lawyers plan to file the lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court by the end of the week.

The lawsuit targets Accurso, his companies, a number of collaborators and Zampino, who was head of the executive committee from 2002 to 2008, under former mayor Gérald Tremblay.

The documents state that between 2001 and 2009, the defendants rigged the contract-bidding process for projects involving sewers, aqueducts, asphalt and sidewalks. 

Those contracts were awarded to businesses owned by Accurso.

The defendants "obtained undue advantages to the detriment of the city and its citizens, and diverted substantial amounts from the public purse," and the city is seeking to "right that wrong" and retrieve the money it is owed, the documents say.

"People decided not to follow the rules, and make their own rules, and we intend to prove that," said executive committee chair Benoit Dorais.

Dorais said city lawyers, with the help of IMK, a firm that specializes in litigation, built a solid case against the defendants.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

The lawsuit relies heavily on evidence brought forth by the Charbonneau Commission, the public inquiry into corruption in Quebec's construction industry, as well as media reports.

The documents point out that Accurso, described as the "driving force" behind the scheme, is mentioned 527 times in the commission's final report.

Zampino's role

Zampino is described in the documents as having "compromising relationships" with a number of the key actors in the alleged scheme, including Accurso.

It is alleged that he participated in trips, dinners and other social events that allowed him to plan the scheme that was then put into place, echoing testimony heard during the commission that Accurso used his luxury yacht, Touch, to entertain both business and city officials.
Former executive committee chair Frank Zampino, right, and Tony Accurso during a vacation to Las Vegas in 2006. This trip is mentioned in the City of Montreal's lawsuit. (Charbonneau commission)

Zampino is also named in a separate lawsuit the city intends to file, seeking $833,000 from a number of companies and individuals for contracts awarded for laboratory services.

The city is already suing Accurso, Zampino and others for $14 million over a cancelled water meter contract.

Zampino is expected to go to trial this fall, alleged to have played a key role in the doling out of municipal contracts to engineering firms in return for political financing during his tenure on the executive committee.

And Accurso was sentenced last year to four years in prison after he was convicted of charged including fraud of over $5,000 and municipal corruption in Laval.

Accurso was accused of being part of a system of corruption that eliminated all competition for municipal contracts in that city between 1996 and 2010. He is appealing the verdict and the sentence.

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