The Quebec government has announced that it will investigate three top members of the provincial police for possible criminal activity.
Public Safety Minister Stephane Bergeron said the senior officials being targeted are suspected of improperly using of a special-operations fund, in what would be the latest in a string of ethics controversies to rock the province.
That fund is intended for investigative operations, like paying informants. But Bergeron said people drew from it to pay severance packages and also a consultant who had been barred from receiving government contracts because of his tax troubles.
Bergeron said that fund is also supposed to be rigorously accounted for, and he said that didn't necessarily happen in this case.
Speaking in Quebec City, the minister told a news conference Wednesday that the activities in question could be a criminal offence for fraud and breach of trust.
"The alleged facts are extremely troubling," Bergeron said.
"I'm well aware of the tumult this will cause."
Bergeron said he has created a special task force to investigate, comprising mostly retired police officers. He says he had to take that step because the legislature has yet to adopt a bill that would create a special-investigation unit in the province.