April 21, 2008 / 10:51 AM / in 10 years

Canada police arrest Liberal on fraud charge

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.

<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>

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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