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        Montreal city official

        Date:Nov 14,2012

        A Montreal municipal official was offered prostitutes' services as a gift from construction companies, he testified Tuesday at Quebec's corruption inquiry.

        The suspended Montreal engineer said he received numerous bottles of wine, fancy dinners and hockey tickets -- and he added that companies' generosity sometimes got a little more personal.

        Gilles Vezina said he was offered the services of an escort on at least two occasions by two different construction bosses in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

        Vezina said the offers came after dinner with businessmen who then invited him to take an escort into a hotel room to end off the night.

        He testified that he accepted the wine, dinners and hockey tickets -- but declined the offer of prostitutes.

        "I told them it didn't interest me," said Vezina, who was recently married at the time. "I wasn't surprised (by the offer), but it didn't interest me."

        Vezina said he didn't know if other colleagues accepted the offer. For his part, Vezina got hockey tickets, fancy dinners, golf outings and roughly 30 bottles of wine from company bosses each year.

        The bottles were often delivered directly to his home.

        Vezina repeated that despite the gifts, he was unaware of a cartel-like structure that existed in Montreal, helped along by colleagues who were on the take.

        He said he knew nothing of the system where fellow city employees, who worked with him, have admitted to pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks over the years.

        Gilles Surpenant and Luc Leclerc, two retired Montreal officials, have admitted to accepting all sorts of kickbacks and gifts in exchange for helping to fix contracts.

        Vezina is still working for the city, although he is under suspension. He said he only learned of the kickbacks while hearing the two men testify in front of Quebec's inquiry over the past few weeks.
         

        TypeInfo: news

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