Hell’s Angels money laundering
Quebec police continued their crackdown on corruption in the province’s construction industry yesterday, arresting 10 people allegedly tied to what authorities say is a vast money-laundering operation headed by the Hells Angels biker gang. The plan, police say, was to create a consortium of masonry companies as part of a conspiracy to corner the market and help the biker gang launder drug money through false consulting contracts for construction projects.
Normand Marvin (Casper) Ouimet, a rotund 40-year-old Hells Angel who has been on the lam since April, was at the forefront of a conspiracy to take control of Quebec’s bricklaying industry to launder his dirty money, the Sûreté du Québec alleged yesterday. Ouimet was already one of the 10 most wanted men in the province, because of murder and drug trafficking charges produced in April in Operation SharQc, and was not among 10 people rounded up yesterday as the SQ made arrests in Operation Diligence, an investigation into organized crime’s grip on the province’s construction industry.
“Numerous companies were actually being sought after by Mr. Ouimet, or were intimidated by Mr. Ouimet,” SQ Inspector Michel Forget said while calling Diligence the biggest money-laundering investigation in the history of the SQ. SQ Inspector Denis Morin said Ouimet planned to create a consortium of masonry firms through “threats, intimidation and extortion.” Morin said Ouimet laundered money through masonry companies in part by paying bricklayers under the table. He then used the money to buy real estate and moved the profits from that into offshore investments, Morin said. The laundered money is believed to come from drug trafficking.
Morin said dirty money was also injected into masonry companies through fake invoices. Ouimet is alleged too have supplied invoices for consulting fees. If a firm turned Ouimet down in his scheme, threats were made, Morin said. This was followed by extortion used to take control of companies.
More than $9-million worth of assets allegedly linked to Ouimet have been placed under seizure orders.
Included among those arrested was Guy Dufour, 42, a representative with the Quebec Federation of Labour’s construction wing; real estate agent Roberto Amato, a 55-year-old convicted drug trafficker; and Jerry Purdy, 60, of Blainville, who is alleged to have ties to the West End Gang.
Forget said the arrests were the result of a probe that began two years ago while Ouimet and almost the entire membership of the Hells Angels in Quebec were investigated in Operation SharQc, which crippled the gang in April and produced several murder and drug trafficking charges against the outlaw motorcycle gang.
While investigators looked into Ouimet’s alleged money laundering activities, they came to realize he was muscling his way into masonry firms, Forget said. Among the more than 20 charges filed against Ouimet and Purdy at the Montreal courthouse yesterday are at least three related to LM Sauvé 2004 Ltd., a family owned firm whose president, Paul Sauvé, has alleged in media interviews that his company was plagued with problems generated by Ouimet.
A classic organized crime scheme; forcing your way into someone’s business. Unfortunately still also common scheme. When we talk about criminals infiltrating the business sector and money laundering, we often forget that businessmen do not always voluntary participate in money laundering schemes. Fear and greed can be forces of equal strength. In the end it is still about the money..