The City of Montreal's executive committee is filing a $26-million lawsuit against Tony Accurso and Frank Zampino, among others.
The executive committee approved the legal action – asking for the largest amount ever related to municipal collusion – in a meeting Wednesday morning.
Both men were accused of collusion in the construction industry and alleged to have taken part in bid-rigging to gain millions of extra dollars from the city for various projects.
The lawsuit seeks to recover some of the money lost to fraud and corruption. It targets, among others, the Simard-Beaudry and Louisbourg companies, which won numerous construction contracts from Montreal in the 2000s.
"It doesn't make sense for us that companies that didn't follow the rules at that time to get contracts keep the money, so our lawyers have made a strong case to go in court and recover that money. We are pretty confident that we will recover that money for all Montreal taxpayers," said Dorais, head of the city's executive committee.
Construction magnate Accurso is the former head of Simard-Beaudry Construction, and is named first in the lawsuit, as well as several of his other companies.
He was sentenced to four years in prison in July 2018 after being convicted of participating in a collusion system in Laval. He was later released pending an appeal.
Zampino is the former head of the city's executive committee under former Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay. His name appears last in a list of 21 companies and defendants named in the suit.
He was alleged to have been part of a plan to defraud the City of Montreal by rigging contracts between 2001 and 2009 worth more than $160 million. He was arrested in 2017 on charges of fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy in connection to the Faubourg Contrecoeur real estate project. He was acquitted in May 2018, when Judge Yvan Poulin ruled that while the Crown produced plenty of evidence, much of it was circumstantial and based on speculation.
This is the city's second multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Zampino. It already launched a $14-million lawsuit against Zampino and others for a $365-million water main contract that was cancelled; it is largely considered one of the red flags that kicked off the Charbonneau Commission into corruption and collusion in Quebec's construction industry.
The city's latest lawsuit alleges that Zampino played a central role in the general system of collusion at the city and is based on testimony from the Charbonneau Commission and conversations recorded between the two men and others aboard Accurso's yacht.
Accurso's name was mentioned 527 times in the Charbonneau Commission's final report. Other companies named in the report avoided prosecution by voluntarily paying back the money Accurso did not.
"Mr. Accurso and all the companies owned by Mr. Accurso at that time didn't participate in the voluntary reimbursement program, so we ask them also - outside of that program – to give back the money. They refused, and so today we are going in court to recover that money," said Dorais.
Dorais said Wednesday that he is confident that justice would be served, adding that there is much more oversight in the city now to prevent corruption in the future.
"We are also following the recommendations of the Charbonneau Commission. We have also a general inspector a general auditor. We have so many measures now at the City of Montreal," he said.
Neither Accurso or Zampino could be reached for comment.
The city is expected to file the lawsuit at some point this week.