Que. building firm boss fined $1.2M for tax fraud



A Laval businessman linked to an ongoing tax evasion case involving Quebec's construction industry has agreed to pay more than $1.2 million in fines, after pleading guilty in court.

Francesco Bruno, owner of B.T. Ceramiques, pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax evasion at a Tuesday hearing in Montreal.

Bruno's case is one of several that have surfaced in recent years, as Canada Revenue Agency authorities continue to probe Quebec's construction industry amid corruption allegations involving companies, municipal politicians and the Mafia.

The Laval entrepreneur has admitted he used a numbered company to supply fake invoices between 2004 and 2008 to a pair of companies — Simard-Beaudry and Construction Louisbourg — once run by Montreal construction magnate Tony Accurso.

"There were no services furnished for these invoices," said prosecutor François Lanthier.

The fake invoices, totalling about $2 million, allowed both companies to reduce revenues and lower federal taxes by at least $442,000.

In a separate case heard in court last December, Simard-Beaudry and Construction Louisbourg pleaded guilty to evading taxes, and were fined $4.1 million for tax fraud.

Accurso was removed as an administrator of both companies prior to the December hearing. He was not charged in connection with the Canada Revenue Agency probe.

At least two Canada Revenue Agency employees have been fired in the aftermath of the investigation into Bruno and his company.

Two Montreal businessmen are still awaiting trial on related tax evasion and fraud charges.

Charges laid against Bruno's wife have been withdrawn.