(Prime Time Crime exclusive Nov. 11, 2005)

Gomery appointment raises conflict questions

By Leo Knight

“If this was about drugs, it would be called money laundering. Don’t you agree? Am I mistaken?”

– Mr. Justice John Gomery to former Chrétien aide Jean Carle

When the first report on the Liberal sponsorship scandal was released by Mr. Justice Gomery, many Canadians didn’t believe that Prime Minister Paul Martin was blameless and all the blame was laid on his predecessor Jean Chrétien, former Minister of Public Works Alfonso Gagliano, Chuck Guité and a handful of apparatchiks from the Quebec wing of the party.

On the surface of things it does seem more than a little incredible that the former Finance Minister could continue to fund the sponsorship program without understanding where the money was going.  Notwithstanding this, Gomery heaped the blame on the previous regime.

But never mind that, Gomery’s reference to money laundering is particularly poignant when one considers the Minister responsible for the program, Alfonso Gagliano, was the former accountant to Augustino Cuntrera, the de facto head of the Caruana / Cuntrera mafia family since his cousin Alfonso Caruana, was bagged up in Project Omerta by the CFSEU in Toronto.  During that time in the early ‘80s, police alleged that the Caruana/ Cuntreras laundered millions of dollars through the family’s accounts at the Montreal City and District Savings bank. 

In one eight month period, RCMP Sgt. Mark Bourque established that the family laundered over $21 million through the bank. On some occasions, as described in the book Bloodlines by Antonio Nicaso and Lee Lamothe, they drove up to the bank with a pick up truck loaded with cash.

Gagliano has spent the intervening years denying his connections to the mafia as recently as last year after Frank Lino, former mob Capo turned informer, named Gagliano as a “made member” of the Bonnano family.

Now, all of this is suspicious and sleazy enough. The CEO of the bank used by the Caruana / Cuntreras at the time was Raymond Garneau, who was appointed by Paul Martin in his capacity as Finance Minister, to be a Director of the Bank of Canada.  He was fired by Jean Chrétien after he had the temerity in 2002 to suggest it was time for Chrétien to resign in favour of Martin.

A police investigator involved in the money laundering investigation said later, "I don't know how to define Mr. Garneau's conduct in those circumstances," he said. "The money of the Mafia came in handy for the banks, and everybody closed their eyes.  Even in front of the evidence."

On June 22, 2005, Mr. Justice Gomery announced he was establishing an Advisory Committee to assist him in making recommendations to government, based on the facts found in his original report, to “…prevent mismanagement of sponsorship programs and advertising activities in the future."  Garneau chairs that Advisory Committee.

Scott Newark, the former special advisor to the Ontario Attorney General said when contacted about this, “It is remarkable and disturbing that an individual with the political history and personal connections to Martin that Garneau has should have received such an appointment.”

Remarkable indeed.  And, given the connections to Martin and Gagliano, one wonders how the appointment came to be made.




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