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Mayor of Canada's second largest city arrested on corruption charges


08:05, June 18, 2013

OTTAWA, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The mayor of Montreal, Canada's second largest city, was arrested Monday morning by police on charges of corruption, local media reported.

Michael Applebaum was picked up at his home at around 6 a.m. by officers with the Unite permanente anticorruption, or UPAC, of the Quebec province.

The charges include fraud, breach of trust, conspiracy, collusion and corruption in municipal affairs related to two real estate projects between 2006 and 2011, UPAC investigators said at a press conference.

"These were bribes that influenced a decision, approvals or permit distribution," said UPAC commissioner Robert Lafreniere. " The message is clear: all actions which compromise the integrity of the state are unacceptable."

Police said that the transactions being investigated were worth "several hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Vowing to combat corruption at City Hall, Applebaum was sworn in last November as Montreal's 42nd mayor, and the first Anglophone mayor in 100 years, to replace Gerald Tremblay, who resigned amid allegations of corruption.

In May, UPAC conducted a series of raids, including one at the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough offices where Applebaum previously sat as borough mayor.

In March, Robert Rousseau, the director of the borough's division of permits and inspections, killed himself hours after being questioned by UPAC investigators.

Two of Applebaum's former colleagues in the borough were also arrested, and it's possible more people will be arrested in the coming days.

Applebaum is the latest major Quebec official to fall in the scandal over allegations that public-works contracts were improperly awarded by municipalities to well-connected engineering and construction firms.

Earlier this spring, Gilles Vaillancourt, former longtime mayor of Laval, Quebec's third largest city, was arrested in a sweep and charged with fraud and gangsterism.

Applebaum's arrest came less than five months before municipal elections are to be held in Montreal, raising the prospect that the country's second-largest city could be put under trusteeship, as the province did for Laval earlier this month.

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