LAVAL, Que. - The scandal-plagued mayor of Quebec's third-largest municipality is temporarily stepping away from his duties, citing health reasons.
An official at the city of Laval says Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt will leave his duties for a period of rest and reflection, while considering what to do next.
He says the decision stems from advice from his doctor.
He says Vaillancourt will have announcement soon on his future plans.
Vaillancourt has had an iron grip on the city administration for 23 years, and faced almost no opposition over that time. He has a year left in his latest mandate.
The announcement tonight comes just hours after the latest raids by the province's anti-corruption squad.
Police confirmed that they conducted the raids but would not confirm various media reports that they were targeting the mayor of Laval once again.
A spokeswoman for the provincial anti-corruption unit said the raids had been carried out at different financial institutions.
But she wouldn't discuss reports that the targets were safety-deposit boxes linked to Vaillancourt, the powerful Montreal-area suburban mayor. One report by Radio-Canada linked the police raids to enormous amounts of cash held in overseas accounts.
Police have already raided two of Vaillancourt's residences and his offices at city hall.
Vaillancourt has been hit with allegations of bribery in recent years — but he has angrily denied them.
A spokeswoman for Vaillancourt said she couldn't confirm whether the raids were linked to the mayor; she said she learned about the police operation from a television news report.