February 6, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

Complete Canadian News World

SIQ scandal: Quebec wants to break up sale of two buildings for $220 million

SIQ scandal: Quebec wants to break up sale of two buildings for $220 million

Quebec wants to buy back two buildings it sold in 2008 for $220 million, prompting a fraud investigation by the permanent anti-corruption unit and a damning report from the auditor general.

“That’s a bunch of bad guys over there! It’s not prestigious!” Former Treasury Board president Monique Jérôme-Forget said in 2016 of the organizers of the Société Immobilier du Québec (SIQ), who approved the sale of 500 Grande Allée East to Québec and Revescue-500. in Montreal.

The police, legal and political saga has dragged on for more than a decade, during which Francois Legault was put on notice and minister Eric Kair sued for $1.25 million.

Our Bureau of Investigation has learned that Quebec is seeking a return to square one. SIQ’s successor, Société Québécois des Infrastructures (SQI), filed a lawsuit last week seeking punitive damages and asking the Superior Court to overturn the sale of George Gantchef’s firm to Gestion Cromwell nearly 15 years ago.

Pending legal proceedings, SQI has also filed a notice to assert its rights over these two office buildings.

The veil is currently shrouded in secrecy. The identity of 11 accused has been withheld. Last Friday, at a Quebec courthouse, we were told the file was impossible to access, citing confidentiality.

500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal.

Photo Archives, Pierre-Paul Poulin

500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal.

Investigations and report

The two Gantchef buildings were part of three buildings sold by the Charest government in 2008, with the aim of securing amounts owed to the Generations Fund, created two years earlier to reduce Quebec’s debt.

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The government then signed long-term leases to maintain the offices there.

A third building, Place Quebec, was sold to contractor Tony Accurso and fonds FTQ.

Since 2010, the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC) has opened a Justice criminal investigation into allegations of fraud for the benefit of the organizers of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) in the context of the sale of these buildings.

In 2016, a Radio-Canada report revealed the existence of this police investigation. We learned that UPAC suspected Marc-Andre Fortier, former CEO of Société Immobilier du Québec, as well as Liberal fundraisers William Bartlett, Franco Fava and Charles Rondeau of receiving multimillion-dollar secret commissions.

The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) and its leader Francois Legault, then in opposition, took center stage in the affair and attacked the PLQ.

About 19 million dollars were lost

In November 2017, the auditor general concluded that Quebec had lost nearly $19 million in three building transactions. She felt that SIQ violated several rules of sound management.

But auditor George Gantchef and his firm did not conclude that they benefited from undue benefits.

The real estate mogul claims he bought buildings that were “poorly maintained” and ultimately cost him tens of millions of dollars in repairs.

“I have always run my businesses with integrity. “I will not accept that my reputation has been tarnished and my integrity questioned,” he declared the day after the auditor’s report came out.

Everything collapses

Then, in November 2019, UPAC announced it was ending the accuracy investigation, saying “the conditions to move forward are not yet met”. Our Bureau of Investigation then revealed that UPAC was afraid of being challenged in court to obtain some evidence.

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However, Franco Fava is also known to have told his alleged accomplices that he expected to be arrested.

“At worst, I will be blamed. It is a crime, handcuffed behind with an ST show Media. At worst, I will pay the tax,” he allegedly said at a restaurant in Quebec, according to UPAC documents consulted by our Bureau of Inquiry at the time.

The story does not end there. In March 2022, George Gantchef retaliated by suing CAQ Minister Eric Kair for $1.25 million. He accused the MP of not having integrity and making unfair and false comments.

– In collaboration with Philippe Langlois and Catherine Lamontagne

They invited themselves into this saga

Monique Jerome-Forget it

Quebec sold 500 Grande Allée Est (photo) in Quebec and 500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal in 2008.

Photo Archives, Chantal Poirier

The former president of the Conseil du trésor, reported SIQ, had very harsh words for SIQ managers in an interview with Radio-Canada.

“That’s a bunch of bad guys over there! It’s not ambitious!”, she began. These ads have gone viral on the web.

Francois Legault

Quebec Premier Francois Legault addresses the media during a press briefing in Quebec on Wednesday, October 26, 2022.  (Stevens LeBlanc/Journal de Quebec/Agence QMI)

File photo, Stevens LeBlanc

Quebec Premier Francois Legault addresses the media during a press briefing in Quebec on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. (Stevens LeBlanc/Journal de Quebec/Agence QMI)

In 2016, he declared that George Gantchef was “one of the beneficiaries of the scheme” of the Liberals. The latter put him on notice and accused him of defamation.

Eric Cairo

George Gantchef is suing for $1.25 million for defamation since last March.

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George Gantchef

Quebec sold 500 Grande Allée Est (photo) in Quebec and 500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal in 2008.

Archival photo, Jean-de-Brébeuf College

Bigg Boss and real estate firm Gestion Cromwell’s first shareholder. He was not charged.

Guylaine Leclerc

Quebec sold 500 Grande Allée Est (photo) in Quebec and 500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal in 2008.

File photo, Stevens LeBlanc

In 2017, the Auditor General published a damning report on asset management at SIQ.

Frederic Gaudreau

Quebec sold 500 Grande Allée Est (photo) in Quebec and 500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal in 2008.

File photo, Stevens LeBlanc

The Anti-Corruption Commissioner has announced that Justice’s criminal investigation into SIQ’s dealings in 2019 has concluded.

Franco Fava

Quebec sold 500 Grande Allée Est (photo) in Quebec and 500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal in 2008.

Archive photo, Pool Jacques Boissinot

A former leader of a construction company, he was one of the liberal managers who benefited from the sale of the SIQ buildings, according to the thesis of the UPAC investigation, which was canceled in 2019. He has not faced any charges.

Marc-Andre Fortier

Quebec sold 500 Grande Allée Est (photo) in Quebec and 500 René-Lévesque West in Montreal in 2008.

Archive photo, taken from SIQ Annual Report

The former CEO of SIQ was sacked by Minister Jérôme-Forget in 2008 during controversial transactions.

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