Montreal Mayor Arrested by Quebec Anti-Corruption Police; charges are linked to illegal payments in two real-estate transactions

Montreal Mayor Arrested by Quebec Anti-Corruption Police

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum faces 14 criminal charges, including fraud and breach of trust, after being arrested today by Quebec’s anti-corruption task force as part of a bribery case.

The charges are linked to two real-estate transactions that involved “tens of thousands of dollars” in illegal payments between 2006 and 2011, Robert Lafreniere, head of Quebec’s anti-corruption unit, told reporters at a televised press conference in Montreal today. Applebaum was arrested at his home, police said in a statement posted on the provincial government’s website.Charges against the mayor of Canada’s second most populous city also include conspiracy and corruption in municipal affairs, Lafreniere said. Two other people arrested today face another nine charges, according to the police statement.

The arrests come as a government-appointed commission investigates the granting and management of public construction contracts in Quebec. The hearings, which began in May 2012, are televised daily in Quebec.

Jonathan Abecassis, a spokesman for Applebaum, didn’t immediately return voice-mail messages left today at his work number and on his mobile phone regarding the arrest.

Other investigations regarding the City of Montreal continue, and further arrests in connection with the two real-estate projects at the center of today’s raids are possible, Lafreniere told RDI television in an interview after the press conference. The payments were made to influence permits and zoning decisions, he said.

‘Reprehensible Acts’

“No one is above the law,” Lafreniere said in the RDI interview. “If there are other people who committed reprehensible acts, they can be sure that we will be on their case.”

Applebaum became interim mayor in November after his predecessor, Gerald Tremblay, quit amid reports that his party received illegal contributions. Tremblay denied the allegations, which emerged during testimony at the hearings.

Upon taking office, Applebaum, the city’s first English-speaking mayor in a century, pledged to “regain the confidence” of citizens as he vowed not to run in the next elections, which are scheduled for Nov. 3.

Gilles Vaillancourt, former mayor of Laval, Quebec’s third-largest city, was among 37 people arrested last month on and charged with crimes including fraud and gangsterism. Laval is now under the trusteeship of the province.

Should Resign

Sylvain Gaudreault, Quebec’s municipal affairs minister, told RDI television in an interview that Applebaum should resign. “I am calling on Mr. Applebaum to take his responsibilities,” Gaudreault said. “The best thing to do in this context is to leave his post.”

Montreal’s executive council and municipal council will meet this afternoon to start planning for Applebaum’s succession, Gaudreault said.

Anti-corruption officials raided Montreal’s city hall and six borough offices on Feb. 20. One of the borough offices was the one that Applebaum represented for several years.

Applebaum told RDI television on the day of the raids that he met with investigators and wasn’t a target of the investigation. Applebaum said he answered all questions and that his administration was cooperating with police.

Quebec’s anti-corruption unit, known by the French-language acronym UPAC, has now arrested 106 people since its inception in February 2011.

To contact the reporter on this story: Frederic Tomesco in Montreal at tomesco@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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