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Sponsorship: The scandal that won't go away 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:00 p.m, August 9, 2007]

Montreal businessman Jacques Corriveau appeared at the Gomery inquiry in 2005.

OTTAWA -- It's been more than two years since the Gomery inquiry stopped hearing witnesses, yet there continues to be a new development in the sponsorship scandal every month. 

In July, the RCMP raided the home of Jacques Corriveau, the Montreal businessman and crony of former prime prime minister Jean Chretien. Although Corriveau has never been charged by the RCMP, Justice John Gomery accused him in his final report of being "the central figure in an elaborate kickback scheme."

So far, five people have been charged in connection with the scandal. Ad man Jean Lafleur plead guilty to 28 fraud-related charges and was sentenced to 32 months in jail and ordered to pay $1.56 million in restitution.  Chuck Guite, the former public works bureaucrat who oversaw the sponsorship program, was found guilty of 5 counts of fraud and sentenced to 42 months in jail. Guite is appealing his conviction. Jean Brault of the firm Groupaction plead guilty to five counts of fraud and was sentenced to 30 months in jail. Paul Coffin plead guilty to 15 fraud-related charges, was sentenced to 18 months in jail. He was released in July 2006 after serving three months. One ad man, Jacques Paradis, was acquitted on fraud charges earlier this year. 

With the raid on Corriveau's home, the RCMP's investigation appears to be alive and well. Before he left politics, Jean Lapierre, who served as former prime minister Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant, said he had heard that there would be five to seven more people charged this year in relation to the scandal. 

This year Conservative government appointed a former Quebec separatist cabinet minister, Daniel Paille, to investigate past government polling practices that were part of the auditor general's chapter on sponsorship. However, the government appears reluctant to broaden the scope and investigate sponsorship outside of Quebec.  

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