NEWS

Canada: Firms With Government Contracts Face Greater Scrutiny

By Matthew Harwood

Quebec's government will strengthen the background screening of firms receiving security contracts after finding that a prisoner-escort contractor had ties to organized crime.

According to Montreal's The Gazette, Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis said, "The new Private Security Act, which will come into force in a few months, requires that we check criminal records in police data bases not only for employees of the agency, but also the shareholders and managers."

The investigations, conducted by Quebec's Provincial Police, will even delve into the background of relatives of employees, managers, and shareholders of those firms receiving security contracts, says CTV.ca.

The shift to scrutinize a contractor's management and shareholders and their family comes after the admission that the government had contracted the firm D.R.P. Investigation and Security Agency  to escort prisoners from jails to hospitals, even though the son of the owner had a criminal record and ties to the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang.

Toronto's The Globe and Mail reports:

Robert Pépin [the owner's son] pleaded guilty in 2004 to possession of stolen goods. A police investigation into organized crime tied Mr. Pépin to Montreal biker gangs. In 2007, he was summoned to appear before the province's financial regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers, in an investigation of illegal investment activities.

On top of his association with D.R.P., Pépin also owned Location Auto Inter-Finance Inc., which was fined for charging interest rates running up to 300 percent. Both D.R.P. and Auto Inter-Finance shared the same address, according to The Globe and Mail.  Pépin allegedly owned D.R.P., but his father, Denis Pépin, a former police officer, says he owns the company and his son's job was to attract new clients. 

Dupuis said Thursday that any company failing to pass the police security check will not receive government contracts.

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