MONTRÉAL, Nov. 2, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - The Voluntary Reimbursement Program (VRP) to recover overpayments made under public contracts during the last twenty years officially comes into effect today.
Following a consultation period that began on September 23, the Office of the Director of the Voluntary Reimbursement Program is ready to receive reimbursement proposals from enterprises and individuals for overpayments made as part of a public contract.
The enterprises and individuals concerned have one year to take advantage of the program and reimburse overpayments to the public purse. The time limit for filing a notice of intent is November 1, 2016. The program ends on November 1, 2017, the final deadline for concluding an agreement. Settlement proposals must be filed within 30 days after the notice of intent.
The Program Director and former Chief Justice of Québec's Superior Court, the Honourable François Rolland, expects the program to be a success and considers that it offers advantages for all parties. "This is really a win-win situation. It will ensure that overpayments made under public contracts are reimbursed. In addition, the program will reduce pressure on the justice system and give companies an opportunity to re-establish their credibility while avoiding costly court proceedings," he points out. He also emphasizes that the reimbursement program is based on best practices and resembles the settlement conferences that are already widely and successfully used by Québec's courts.
Failure to participate may result in retroactive prosecution
Individuals or enterprises that refuse to participate in the program or fail to reach an agreement with the government run the risk of being targeted by civil proceedings covering all the contracts signed with public bodies over the last 20 years that may have involved collusion or fraudulent tactics.
It is also important to remember that the program is cost-neutral for taxpayers. It will be self-financing, since a lump-sum payment of 10% of the amount of each settlement will be paid by each individual or enterprise that reimburses a public body.
The Program Director, François Rolland, has made a commitment to disclose on a regular basis the amounts recovered under the program on the program website at www.prv.gouv.qc.ca.
To consult the Program:
- VRP website:
Detailed operation of the Program (sections 14 to 45)
- Enterprises and individuals have a maximum of one year, from today, to present a notice of intent to participate in the program, and then have 30 days to submit a settlement proposal covering all the public bodies from which they may have received overpayments.
- With assistance from forensic accountants, the Program Director will verify the accuracy of the settlement proposals submitted by enterprises and individuals.
- Within 150 days of receiving a notice of intent and settlement proposal (and after verifying their accuracy), the Program Director must make a recommendation to the Minister of Justice, who then has 30 days to submit the settlement proposal to the public bodies concerned.
- The public bodies have 60 days to inform the Minister whether they agree or disagree with the part of the settlement proposal that concerns them.
- To accept a settlement proposal, the public bodies concerned must vote, no more than 210 days after the proposal is received.
- Each public body has one voting right for each dollar that concerns it in the amount covered by a settlement proposal submitted to the Director by the Minister.
- To be accepted, a settlement proposal must be approved by public bodies holding at least 2/3 of the voting rights.
- If the settlement proposal is rejected, the Program Director has 30 days to convene the parties to a conciliation meeting, which must be held within a maximum of 150 days following receipt of the settlement proposal by the Minister.
- The Program covers all public contracts signed by public bodies with enterprises or individuals since October 1, 1996.
- Once it is established that an individual or enterprise has been involved in collusion, it is presumed to have overcharged 20% on the contracts involved. This is the amount that the individual or enterprise must reimburse to the public body concerned, unless it is proved that the amount was actually higher or lower.
- The work for the Program will be conducted in private, and everything done or said pursuant to the Program will remain confidential and will not be admissible in evidence.
- However, individuals and enterprises will be able to apply to the Minister for permission to inform the public that they have availed themselves of the Program.
- The Director will file a complete report with the Minister of Justice once the Program ends, naming the enterprises and individuals that have participated in the Program and the total amount reimbursed. The report will be tabled by the Minister of Justice in the National Assembly.
SOURCE Bureau de l'administrateur du programme de remboursement volontaire
For further information: Ludovic Soucisse, Press Officer, Office of the Director of the Voluntary Reimbursement Program, Cell: 418 571-4536, Ludovic@Soucisse.net