Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Chrétien friend won $6.7-million in sponsorship deals, inquiry told

Luc Lemay, former president of the advertising frim Polygone, testifies Tuesday at the Gomery commission in Montreal

Chrétien Crony Got $6.7M In Adscam Contracts

The Globe and Mail has this story on the Canadian Adscam Scandel:

The design firm of a close friend of Jean Chretién billed for $6.7-million in a series of federal contracts granted in Quebec under the sponsorship program, the Gomery inquiry was told Tuesday.

Jacques Corriveau's firm, Pluri-Design Inc., sent the invoices as part of a series of trade fairs and consumer shows for nature lovers, commercials for rural radios and other publications that are commonly known as the Polygone deals.

Already, ad executive Jean Brault, whose company handled some of those events, has alleged at the inquiry that he kicked back half a million dollars from his commissions earned on the Polygone events, a sum that ostensibly was supposed to go the coffers of the Liberal Party.

The Polygone sponsorships had always been an intriguing lesser-known aspect of the controversy because large amounts of money were funnelled into seemingly innocuous small town events.

The inquiry had previously heard that Mr. Corriveau earned a lot in subcontracts from the Polygone deals but no specific amounts had been revealed until now.

Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters has this take on the piece:

This shows a certain intelligent strategy at work in the embezzlement effort. The use of Polygone as a middleman would not raise red flags in any cursory look at the use of government funds, since Polygone did not benefit Chrétien's friends directly. Corriveau's firm acted as a subcontractor to Polygone, which awarded a healthy bite of its federal contracts to Pluri-Design after receiving the Sponsorship money. It also held a lower profile by using the money ostensibly on a series of smaller events, the kinds of events that would receive less scrutiny and less attention from both the media and the politicians.

In short, the kind of contracts worked through Polygone to Pluri-Designs were tailor-made for money laundering: low profile, low risk, and many opportunities to channel smaller amounts into the pockets of whomever the embezzlers desired.

The account from the G&M does not tell how Lemay justified the number of contracts he sent to Corriveau as a subcontractor on such small events, but $6.7 million must have represented at least the lion's share of Polygone's deals with the federal government. It shows that Polygone knew where the power was and what it wanted, just as Pluri-Design's work with Groupaction shows that it got what it wanted from Jean Brault -- a plausible business construct that allowed for kickbacks and phantom workers, all intended to benefit either the Liberal Party or its leadership.

The corruption goes to the highest level of the Liberal Party and the Canadian government. Will the Conservative Party have the CAJONES to call for new elections tomorrow?

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