Montreal

Company heads said there was no collusion, Tony Accurso testifies

Former construction magnate Tony Accurso says he asked leaders in his companies twice about collusion in Laval’s municipal contract system, and didn’t investigate the issue further.

Accurso is facing charges of fraud, two counts of conspiracy, breach of trust and corruption

The Crown alleges that between 1996 and 2010, Tony Accurso was part of a system of collusion that eliminated all competition for municipal contracts in Laval. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Tony Accurso says he asked leaders in his companies twice about collusion in Laval's municipal contract system, but didn't investigate the issue further.

The 66 year-old former construction mogul says his presidents at Louisbourg Construction and Simard Beaudry assured him the companies weren't involved in the scheme, and that was enough for him to let the matter drop.

Accurso is charged with fraud, two counts of conspiracy, breach of trust and corruption.

The Crown alleges that between 1996 and 2010, Accurso was part of a system of collusion that eliminated all competition for municipal contracts in Laval.

He answered questions before a 12-person jury and Superior Court Justice James Brunton as a defence witness in his trial Tuesday.

Crown prosecutor Richard Rougeau asked Accurso several questions about his knowledge of collusion in Laval during the cross examination.

Accurso testified yesterday that he heard rumblings of a system of corruption through his longtime friend, and former director general of the City of Laval, Claude Asselin.

He said Asselin brought it up in conversation twice — once in 1997, and again in 2002.

Standing in the witness box, Accurso said he had conversations with his right-hand men — Joe Molluso and Frank Minicucci — after both these times.

When his company presidents told him there was no involvement in collusion on their side, Accurso testified he didn't ask any more questions.

'I had trust in my presidents'

Rougeau asked if Accurso thought about setting up another meeting to look into the matter, which he said he did not.

"I had trust in my presidents," Accurso told the courtroom.

He added that construction contracts in Laval never made up more than three per cent of business for his companies, and he wouldn't have put the rest of his construction empire in jeopardy.

"If I knew about [collusion], I surely would have stopped it," Accurso said.

Rougeau pressed the defendant on why he didn't ask Asselin follow up questions on the two occasions the topic of collusion came up.

Accurso answered he was concerned about his own companies, not what was going on elsewhere.

Accurso was the seventh and final defence witness in the trial.

The defence will present its closing arguments to the jury on Thursday, followed by the Crown on Friday.

Jury deliberations are set to begin early next week.