'Unusual transactions' in OPP union funds among allegations against top execs
Published Friday, March 13, 2015 1:58PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 13, 2015 7:52PM EDT
CTV News has obtained details of allegations of theft, fraud, criminal breach of trust and laundering the proceeds of crime levelled against three top executives of the Ontario Provincial Police Association. The allegations are outlined in more than 200 pages of court documents obtained Friday.
The RCMP is investigating what’s described as “significant and unusual transactions” using OPPA funds. They include an alleged $13,000 deposit on a condominium in the Bahamas which is worth an estimated $1.5 million; and an alleged $30,000 payout to two OPPA executive members for unused vacation. There are also separate allegations of untraceable shares being held in offshore companies.
The unsealed RCMP documents allege that OPPA president and CEO Jim Christie, vice-president Martin Bain and chief administrative officer Karl Walsh, used companies they either set up or partly owned, to obtain exclusive rights to services used by the association, including travel and investment services.
In the statement used to obtain the search warrant, the investigating officer, RCMP Sgt. Gordon Aristotle, said: “I believe that the subjects of the investigation have organized various schemes.” According to Aristotle, the schemes included “companies for which they hold hidden beneficial ownership” that offer travel and investment services that are being promoted to the OPPA membership.
Financial documents reveal that one of those companies was First Response Travel Group. The RCMP allege the travel service provider made $400,000 from the OPPA because its employees “were being forced to use First Response for their travel needs.”
Another company, PIN Consulting Group, was charging the OPPA $180,000 in consulting fees, the documents allege. Investigators allege the money paid to PIN Consulting was then being used to pay for shares in First Response.
There are also allegations from one witness of “a sense of entitlement and arrogance” among the executive leadership of the police union.
Separate allegations involve work schedules. One witness has told investigators that the schedules for vacation or days off were manipulated to indicate that work was done when executives were away.
The RCMP executed the 11 search warrants and two production orders on March 6 seeking email back-ups and other electronic records from the OPPA headquarters in Barrie and other businesses and homes in the Barrie area, Midland, Blue Mountain and Toronto.
Three other people are named in the documents, including a lawyer, Andrew McKay. McKay is identified as an owner of one company, and a director of two other companies that are part of the investigation.
None of the allegations against any of the individuals named have been proven in court and no charges have been laid.
On Monday, the OPPA said in a statement it has fully co-operated with the investigation and turned over items identified in the search warrant.
"The RCMP is conducting a criminal investigation and believed that evidence to support its investigation could be found in the OPP Association head office as well as the offices of president Christie, vice-president Bain and CAO (Karl) Walsh," the statement said.
The RCMP launched an investigation last October, after the OPP received complaints of alleged fraudulent activity by the association’s senior members. The Mounties conducted physical surveillance of the three OPPA officials and the companies in question between Nov. 20, 2014, and Feb. 19, 2015.
RCMP have indicated in the documents that four OPPA employees have provided sworn statements to investigators.
Christie and Bain took voluntary leaves of absences after last week’s raids, while Walsh was placed on administrative leave.
An internal investigation has also been launched by an independent legal firm.
A newsletter sent out to the association’s members says that day-to-day operations will continue.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Zuraidah Alman
Read RCMP search warrant documents: