By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 0 Comments
The inside story of the man at the centre of the storm
Lino Zambito is many things, not all of them good. The former contractor, would-be construction magnate and budding restaurateur is currently facing, he estimates, “about 12” fraud, collusion and breach of trust charges for, among other things, his role in an alleged bid-rigging scheme in the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand. In April, he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to subvert the outcome of a municipal election in that same community. Two days after Maclean’s met with him at the strip-mall pizzeria he now runs, Revenu Québec officials raided it in search of some $38,000 in unpaid taxes. And as the owner of the construction company Infrabec, he has, by his own admission, spent much of the last decade participating in a system that bilked taxpayers out of millions of dollars.
Yet it is precisely because of his misdeeds, or at least his willingness to talk about them under oath, that Zambito is something of a folk hero in Quebec these days. Subpoenaed on Sept. 5—one day after the Quebec election—by the commission investigating the province’s notorious construction industry, Zambito testified for eight days, and what came out of the tall, beefy 43-year-old’s mouth shocked a province and arguably brought a premature end to the careers of two big city mayors.
As a contractor in Montreal, Zambito says he participated in bid-rigging schemes involving the Rizzuto Mafia clan that usually culminated with mobsters stuffing wads of cash into their knee-high socks in the ill-lit backroom of a north end coffee shop. He not only kicked up a cut of his profits to those mobsters but also to various municipal and provincial political parties as well.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 11:01 AM - 0 Comments
Kickbacks, ‘fake’ work orders, city employees on the take and other allegations
Lino Zambito is an unlikely white knight. The career trajectory of the burgeoning construction magnate came to a screeching halt when in 2010 he was caught on tape attempting to influence an election in the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand. His company went bankrupt soon after. Last year, he pleaded guilty to electoral fraud, and still faces criminal charges in connection with a single-bid $28-million contract to build Boisbriand’s water purification plant.
Perhaps he has had a tinge of remorse—or maybe he thinks he has nothing left to lose. Regardless, once compelled by subpoena to appear at Quebec’s so-called Charbonneau commission, Zambito, 43, freely and frankly offered up what is arguably the most damning testimony yet about the dirty state of affairs within the province’s construction industry. It has battered the already teetering political career of Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay and prompted fresh outrage from a population shell-shocked by years of corruption allegations concerning its elected officials. It has also implicated Montreal’s former director general Robert Abdallah—a man who once seemed to have a powerful connection within Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
Zambito’s allegations are almost too long to list. His most damning contention, however, is directed at Montreal’s long-serving mayor. Whenever Zambito bid on municipal contracts in Montreal, he alleged certain kickbacks were necessary. He said he knew that 2.5 per cent would have to go to the Rizzuto clan, Montreal’s notorious Mafia syndicate that controlled the number of construction companies doing business in the metropolis. Montreal’s municipal government was a touch more expensive, Zambito said: “Starting in 2005 and 2006, there was an amount of three per cent of the contracts that I gave to [Rizzuto confidant Nicolo] Milioto that I knew was going to Mayor Tremblay’s political party.”
By Paul Wells - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
Jean Charest denied the mess all around him for years–eventually it will destroy him
So what’s the going price for Céline Dion tickets these days, anyway? Nine of them, in a luxury suite at Montreal’s Bell Centre? Figure a little over $200 each, anyway. Not less than $2,000 for the set.
If somebody gave you $2,000 worth of Céline Dion tickets, you’d probably remember who gave them to you. I know I’d never forgive anyone who gave me that much access to that much awful, awful music. But Nathalie Normandeau, who was deputy premier of Quebec until she quit politics last autumn, likes Céline Dion. She did get nine tickets to the Bell Centre suites for a 2009 Dion show. And she still couldn’t remember the name of her benefactor when the Radio-Canada investigative journalism program Enquête called her a couple of weeks ago.
It was a trick question, of course. The reporter from Enquête knew who gave Normandeau the tickets. It was Lino Zambito. The same guy who also gave her Madonna tickets.