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The World This Week - 01 August 2014

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Latest update : 2012-12-14

Quebec: the Maple Leaf Mafia

For the past few months, the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec has been gripped by a tale of corruption involving public officials and the construction industry. The mayors of Montreal and Laval have been forced to resign because of graft on their watch. A public inquiry, known as the Charbonneau Commission, has been set up to look into the scandal.

We caught up with Lino Zambito, a Sicilian-born businessman who used to be involved in a system of graft that allowed several companies in Quebec to share out some of the juiciest municipal contracts.

This former construction company boss was one of the first to testify before the Charbonneau Commission. “I was not an angel. I rigged contracts, I financed political parties, I bribed public officials; but the system was such that if I wanted to work for the ministry, I had no choice", Zambito told the inquiry.

Today he runs a pizzeria in a suburb of Montreal but remains charged with several corruption-related offences. Whenever he can, Zambito catches up with the latest developments at the public inquiry. He knows all the witnesses who take the stand - former colleagues, competitors, city officials - and is able to decipher this mafia system which could extend well beyond the borders of Quebec.

By Fabrice HOSS

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