Ex-Liberal Party organizer charged in sponsorship scandal

Jacques Corriveau. (QMI Agency)

Jacques Corriveau. (QMI Agency)

Brian Daly, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:41 PM ET

MONTREAL -- The RCMP has charged a one-time friend of former prime minister Jean Chretien with fraud and money laundering in the federal sponsorship scandal.

The Mounties allege Jacques Corriveau, 80, received kickbacks from the now-defunct national-unity fund that was a vehicle for bribes and fraud from 1996 to 2002.

The scandal helped to bring down the Liberal government and pave the way for Stephen Harper's Conservatives to take power in 2006.

Media investigations and a 2002 auditor's report shed light on a cabal of Liberal-linked ad firms that received the lion's share of sponsorship contracts.

Corriveau, a high-ranking Liberal organizer, later emerged as a key figure in the scheme, according to evidence presented at the Gomery inquiry in 2005.

The RCMP said Friday that Corriveau "set up a kickback system on the contracts that were awarded in the sponsorship program."