|Jacques Duchesneau. (CHANTAL POIRIER / QMI AGENCY)
MONTREAL — Former anti-corruption czar Jacques Duchesneau named names for the first time Monday as he told an inquiry that just two firms dominate Quebec's road paving industry.
Duchesneau told the corruption commission that Montreal-based firms Sintra and DJL control more than 60% of the provincial asphalt supply.
The former director of Quebec's anti-collusion unit testified that Sintra and DJL have a competitive advantage over other firms because they manufacture asphalt at their own plants.
He said other companies were forced to buy asphalt from the two firms, who would simply refuse to sell to anyone who wasn't part of their consortium.
"(Competing firms) said they had to play this game because they didn't have a choice," Duchesneau said. "If they didn't, their company would go bankrupt."
A similar scheme in France led authorities in that country to fine Sintra's parent company to the tune of 17 million euros.
"The same system has been set up here," Duchesneau said.
Judge France Charbonneau, the Crown attorney who put Hells Angels boss Maurice "Mom" Boucher behind bars, is leading the inquiry set up by Premier Jean Charest.
The commission will examine ties between construction firms, government officials and organized crime.
Transport Minister Pierre Moreau has already admitted that some bureaucrats in his department might be co-conspirators, but no one in the department has yet been arrested.
Duchesneau is the first high-profile witness to appear before the inquiry.
Last fall he referred to the mob as the construction industry's "silent partner" that strong-arms firms through a "pizzo," or protection tax, while enforcing the law of silence known as omerta.
Some of the ill-gotten gains were allegedly kicked back to municipal and provincial parties.
Duchesneau rocked the inquiry last week when he said he leaked his own report to the media after he got the impression the Charest government would shelve it.
Charest had refused to create an inquiry until Duchesneau insisted before the legislature that a commission was the only way to reveal the rot in the system.
Alleged kickback schemes have since led to the arrests of former Montreal executive committee chairman Frank Zampino as well as Richard Marcotte, the mayor of the Montreal bedroom community of Mascouche.
The raids also netted construction magnates Tony Accurso and Paolo Catania as well as two Liberal organizers.
The alleged corruption reaches all the way to Ottawa, where the head of a Quebec construction firm told a Commons committee in 2010 that he paid a Tory-linked lobbyist to win a contract on Parliament Hill.
The businessman, Paul Sauve, could be subpoenaed to testify at the Montreal inquiry.