April 20, 2008 / 7:54 PM / 9 years ago

Canada police arrest Liberal on fraud charge

<p>Benoit Corbeil, former director general of the Liberal Party-Quebec wing, gestures during testimony at the Gomery Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program in Montreal, May 10, 2005. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a former senior Liberal official on Friday on fraud charges in connection with an advertising scandal that helped topple the Liberal government in 2006.

The Mounties arrested Benoit Corbeil, who headed the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party, in connection with offenses committed against the government and against his party, a police statement said.

He will face charges of fraud and exercise of influence that have been laid in the wake of irregularities in a former federal government sponsorship program that was designed to combat separatism in Quebec.

The so-called sponsorship scandal involved C$100 million ($100 million) in government advertising and sponsorship contracts being funneled to Liberal-friendly firms for little or no work.

Largely because of those revelations, the Liberals were defeated in the January 2006 election and replaced by a minority Conservative government.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway

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