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Globe and Mail - Aug. 17, 2010 - By Adrian Morrow
McCallion was to take over part of company,
While one of Peter McCallion’s business partners saw him as part owner of the company trying to build a hotel and convention centre near Mississauga city hall, another believed the son of Mississauga’s mayor would take over part of the company once the deal was complete, an inquiry heard Tuesday.
The question of Mr. McCallion’s stake in World Class Developments, the company promoting the project, has been a central issue at the inquiry, which is probing allegations that his mother, Hazel McCallion, put herself into a conflict of interest by pushing the development forward.
Mr. McCallion signed an agreement with WCD investor Leo Couprie in January of 2007 that stipulated that Mr. Couprie was to hold 80 per cent of the company’s shares in trust for him. While the agreement effectively made Mr. McCallion part owner of the company, he maintains he didn’t realize it at the time.
In testimony Tuesday, Mr. Couprie backed this version of events but added that he believed that, once the project had been built and he had been repaid his investment, Mr. McCallion would take over his stake in the company.
He also credited Mr. McCallion, whom he described as one of his best friends, with being the visionary behind the development.
“He said his mother’s dream was to have a hotel down there and he wanted to make her dream come true for her,” he said.
Vaughan developer Tony DeCicco, who joined WCD in the summer of 2007 as an investor and principal, went a step further, telling the inquiry that he understood Mr. McCallion to be part owner of the company when he joined.
“The shares were held by Mr. Couprie, 80 per cent. They were held for Peter McCallion,” he said, adding later that Mr. McCallion was a “beneficial owner” of the shares.
Both Mr. Couprie and Mr. DeCicco played down the mayor’s role in putting the deal together, explaining that many of their various lunch and dinner meetings with her and Mr. McCallion were related to other business transactions or mere social occasions.
In some cases, Mr. McCallion attended business meetings between Mr. DeCicco and the mayor simply because he was driving his mother around, the businessman explained. On other occasions, he said, the trio socialized and he even brought Ms. McCallion to have dinner at his parents’ house.
Mr. McCallion’s business partners said they had discussed WCD with the mayor on occasion, but characterized those meetings as being for the purpose of keeping her up to speed on the project and said she hadn’t helped them push the deal through the city planning department.
Mr. Couprie also testified that, although Ms. McCallion witnessed the trust agreement he signed with her son, she didn’t read it.
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