Quebec judge stays fraud charges against entrepreneur after lengthy trial delays

MONTREAL — Quebecers’ trust in their institutions is once again being tested after another high-profile fraud case was thrown out because legal proceedings took too long, Justice Minister Sonia LeBel said Friday.

LeBel was reacting to news that 989 tax fraud-related charges against a construction entrepreneur in Montreal were stayed after the length of the trial exceeded legal limits set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

On Thursday, a Quebec court judge issued a judicial stay in the case against Paolo Catania, his family construction business and other company employees. Quebec’s Revenue Department claimed the defendants evaded $1.2 million in taxes and it sought fines from them totalling $25 million.

Catania’s name came up often during Quebec’s public inquiry into corruption in the construction industry.

His company was heavily involved in road and sewer contracts in the city. Last May, a judge acquitted Catania and former high-ranking Montreal councillor Frank Zampino in a separate fraud case involving a Montreal land deal.

“Our government is aware of the impact of court delays on Quebecers’ confidence in the justice system,” LeBel said in a statement. The minister said she recently introduced a bill that she contends will improve the justice system’s efficiency and simplify court proceedings.

“We are determined to take action to ensure that citizens, and especially victims, can maintain their trust in our system and in the people who compose it,” LeBel said.

Catania’s lawyer, Paul Ryan, said his clients were first charged in 2013 and the trial was only expected to end next May.

“My clients are relieved,” Ryan said in an interview. “They have been living with the weight of this for six years already.”

The Supreme Court in 2016 set a limit of 18 months for cases going to trial in provincial court — or 30 months if a provincial court trial has a preliminary inquiry. The court set a limit of 30 months for cases in Superior Court.

Last February, a Quebec court judge stayed charges of fraud and bribery against former SNC-Lavalin executive Stephane Roy, ruling his right to a trial within a reasonable time had been violated.

Roy’s case resulted from the same RCMP investigation that led to charges against SNC-Lavalin, which is accused of paying nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011 to influence government decisions.

Just Posted

Expert panel to review supervised consumption sites in Alberta including Red Deer

Eight experts will hear from Albertans on the social and economic impacts… Continue reading

Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

OTTAWA — A pre-election chill has descended over some environment charities after… Continue reading

Scheer repeats call on RCMP to investigate Trudeau’s actions in SNC affair

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the federal ethics commissioner’s stinging… Continue reading

Vikings Days a celebration of Danish immigration, culture

The Danish Canadian Museum near Dickson held its annual Viking Days celebration… Continue reading

WATCH: ‘Lots to see and do’ at Pioneer Days in Red Deer

Sunnybrook Farm Museum is celebrating its 24th annual Pioneer Days this weekend.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

34% of economists in survey expect a US recession in 2021

WASHINGTON — A number of U.S. business economists appear sufficiently concerned about… Continue reading

Ontario cannabis retailer returns $2.9M in CannTrust products to company

VAUGHAN, Ont. — CannTrust Holdings Inc. says the Ontario government’s cannabis retailer… Continue reading

Pipeline rupture sends 40,000 litres of oil into Alberta creek

DRAYTON VALLEY, Alta. — The Alberta Energy Regulator says a pipeline has… Continue reading

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has condemned violence in Hong… Continue reading

Turtles, butterflies and foxes: Captive breeding for endangered species growing

LANGLEY, B.C. — The turtle in my hand dangles its churning feet… Continue reading

Saskatoon Cubs win Westerns with wild extra-innings comeback

The Saskatoon Cubs showed no quit in the finals of the 18UAAA… Continue reading

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

OTTAWA — The United Kingdom is shirking its share of the international… Continue reading

Most Read