MONTREAL—Bernard Trepanier, a former political fundraiser in Montreal and a central figure during Quebec’s public inquiry into corruption in the construction sector, died Aug. 15, his lawyer said.
Trepanier was infamously nicknamed “Mr. Three Per Cent” by witnesses at the inquiry because of kickbacks he allegedly sought when he worked for former Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay’s party.
His lawyer, Daniel Rock, said his client and “friend” died in his home northwest of Montreal surrounded by family “after being sick for a very long time.”
Trepanier’s poor health was the reason a judge delayed his trial on corruption-related crimes and ultimately why Crown prosecutors dropped all the charges against him in June.
He was arrested in May 2012 and charged with a number of crimes, including fraud, fraud against the government and breach of trust in connection with a Montreal land deal.
Due to his poor health, he did not stand trial in this case but five co-accused—including Tremblay’s No. 2 at city hall as well as a high-profile construction entrepreneur—were acquitted of all charges.
Rock said the judge indicated Trepanier was not a major player in the case and would have likely been acquitted along with them.
Trepanier was arrested again in September 2017 and charged with fraud and other corruption-related counts, tied to an alleged scheme to award contracts to companies that paid kickbacks to politicians between 2001 and 2009.
The Crown dropped all the charges against him in both cases after it became clear Trepanier was too ill to stand trial.
“I am not a prophet, but I’m sure the second trial would have gone well for him,” Rock said, adding his client always denied the accusations against him.
Witnesses at the corruption inquiry as well as other officials involved in municipal affairs said Trepanier earned the nickname “Mr. Three Per Cent” because he allegedly demanded that percentage from government contracts awarded to construction companies.
He was accused of being a key person who orchestrated the infamous kickback scheme that allegedly bilked Montreal taxpayers of millions of dollars.
Rock said no three per cent kickback system ever existed and that neither the evidence presented during the inquiry nor during the legal proceedings ever proved it did.
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