Special unit to investigate Mafia/construction ties

By Chris Sleight27 October 2009

The government of Quebec has launched a special police investigation - "L'Opération Marteau" (Operation Hammer) - to look into allegations of criminal activities in the province's construction sector. It has also established a telephone hotline for confidential tip-offs.

The move comes following allegations of organised criminals' involvement with some construction contractors. There is suspicion of collusion between these groups to push up prices, and also that the proceeds of price fixing have been used to buy political influence.

Announcing the new initiative, Minister for Public Security, Jacques Dupuis described the current situation as "Worrisome and unacceptable."

Operation Hammer has been given a budget of CA$ 26.8 million (US$ 25.4 million). It has 24 police officers assigned to it, along with 14 civilian employees. There will also be cooperation with Canada's Competition Bureau.

The provincial government has also launched a new requirement that any bid worth more than CA$ 25000 (US$ 23800) must be accompanied by a new certificate verifying that their finances are in order.

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