A painful trial for the Caisse de depot et placement du Québec has just begun in Montreal. The former boss of Otéra Capital’s mortgage subsidiary testified against the woolly socks of Quebecers, who are suing for 6.9 million. He said he was “thrown under the bus” after an investigative report into his conflicts of interest.
On the first day of his trial against Caisse for “wrongful dismissal”, Alfonso Gracefa recounted in court the incessant calls on February 7, 2019, from his boss, Daniel Fournier, CEO of Ivanhoe Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary. ” He repeated. : ” You should do something… Maybe you should step aside”. »
In February 2019, reports from Montreal Journal Otéra’s subsidiary, Financial Corporation MCAP, exclusively disclosed that it had granted more than $9 million in loans to the CEO’s personal real estate companies. Otera lent 44 million to Gracefa’s business partner Thomas Marcantonio’s company.
“They told me: ‘If you don’t leave, we will suspend you,'” Gracefa told the court. There was pressure from above, a lot of heat from the media…”
Two days after the first revelations in the media, Caisse finally announced that he had “offered to step down from all his duties at Caisse’s real estate subsidiaries” in an independent investigation entrusted to lawyer Stephan Elzerrat in Osler.
On March 25, 2019, Gracefa described how he cooked in the firm’s offices with another lawyer, Frédéric Plamondon, in Osler.
“It was a strange encounter,” he said. They asked me about organized crime… I don’t know, maybe because I’m Italian… They showed me pictures and documents about the mafia.
Then in May 2019, Caisse CEO Michael Sabia invited the media to a press conference. He submitted a “summary” of the conclusions of his independent investigation, which he claimed cost 5 million. Without naming anyone, Caisse Otéra investigated “serious and unacceptable deficiencies” and announced that four people had left the company.
Caisse also denied certain transactions that were “conducted by a person who has, or has had, direct and/or indirect ties to known actors in the organized crime community.” She also claimed that a man with a criminal record came to her office to hand over $15,000 in cash to the concerned officer.
The fund issued another press release explaining that the three, including Gracefa, “no longer have any employment relationship with the company.” In short, the former CEO will not return to take up the post.
Some interests are disclosed… others are not
In June 2019, Graceffa filed her claim for “wrongful dismissal”. In his plea, he claimed to have declared most of his interests in commercial buildings. He admitted, however, that he was the recipient of $15,000 in cash at Otéra’s offices. He admitted that he “forgot” to declare his interest in his brother’s company, Construction Saint-Gabriel.
In her testimony, Graceffa emphasized the multiple positive evaluations the fund made in her favor before the 2019 winter season.
For his part, Caisse’s attorney, Mason Popla, assured us that the actions found in the internal investigation were serious, “even taken in isolation.” “These serious criticisms go to the heart of his highest duty in this institution,” he pleaded.
In January 2020, Kaisse filed her defense against her former confidant. She described Gracefa as a leader with an “irregular moral compass”.
His testimony and the transcript of close interrogations allow us to learn that while directing Otera, Gracefa was in private real estate debt. While he was in office, he granted a total of 11 million through his broker partner Thomas Marcantonio.
“State of Tolerance”
Three years after Caisse’s defense was filed and hearings outside this court, Gracefa’s lawyer, Marie-France Tozzi, intended to show that Otera had a situation of tolerance regarding “conflicts of interest”.
In court, she referred to the new sections Montreal Journal Published in 2022. They reported other conflicts of interest of Paul Chin, Otera’s first vice president and chief investment officer, who is still employed.
“Paul is not just someone, Gracefa testified. He is a chief investment officer! »
In his objections, Caisse’s lawyer rejected the comparison between the two cases because Paul Chinn was not that high up in the hierarchy.
A full report on the 2019 internal investigation has never been released. Cayce gave only a five-page summary to journalists at the press conference.
The story so far
February 6 to 8, 2019
A series of articles from Montreal Journal Otera reveals ethical violations and mafia links in the capital. They are specifically investigating more than 9 million in loans to real estate companies partly owned by Graceffa.
February 8, 2019
Caisse depot et placement du Québec, which owns Otéra, announced that Graceffa is stepping down as CEO of the subsidiary.
June 20, 2019
Gracefa sued Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec for “wrongful dismissal.” He claimed 6.9 million.