Duffy, Brazeau, Wallin, Harb: What's the status of the investigations?
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, November 5, 2013 7:22PM EST
Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin may have been suspended for the remainder of the parliamentary session, but the Senate expense scandal is far from over. The RCMP is still reviewing their expense claims, as well as those of former senator Mac Harb, who resigned earlier this year. The investigations may or may not result in criminal charges. None of the allegations reported in court documents have been proven in a court of law. Here is the status of those investigations:
The Mounties are investigating Wallin on allegations of fraud and breach of trust over her inappropriate expenses, largely related to her travel claims. In court documents filed by the RCMP last week, investigators are seeking to obtain materials including Wallin’s electronic calendar from 2009 to 2013, her travel expense forms and receipts, her credit card billing statements and Senate attendance records.
In the court documents, police say that the Senate’s director of finance, Nicole Proulx, told them that there have been issues with Wallin’s expenses since 2009. Proulx said she and the Senate clerk spoke with Wallin about her claims on several occasions. She said the “whole issue” centred on claims related to Wallin’s travel to Toronto, where the senator owned a condo and frequently stopped en route to Saskatchewan or Ottawa.
An outside audit flagged $121,348 in inappropriate travel expenses claimed by Wallin, and a Senate committee later determined she owed another $17,621, bringing her total tab to $138,969. Wallin repaid those expenses, but denied any wrongdoing and called the audit process “fundamentally flawed and unfair.”
The RCMP is investigating Brazeau for alleged breach of trust over living expenses he has been claiming since 2011. According to court documents filed by the Mounties over the summer, investigators say Brazeau “does not live” in Maniwaki, Que. and “inappropriately” claimed his father’s home there as his primary residence in order to obtain the Senate’s annual $22,000 housing allowance.
Brazeau lived in Gatineau, Que. with his wife and three children from the time he was appointed to the Senate in December 2008 until the couple broke up after Christmas 2010. He then moved to another Gatineau rental home, which he lived in for the subsequent 27 months. When he moved there, Brazeau began claiming the housing allowance after he designated the rental property as his secondary residence and the Maniwaki address as his primary home.
In those court documents, investigators sought records and billing statements from the Senate related to Brazeau’s expense claims. They also requested Brazeau’s cellphone and corporate credit card records dating back to March 2011.
An outside audit found that Brazeau spent only 10 per cent of his time in Maniwaki over a two-year period, and the Senate ordered him to repay nearly $49,000 in claims. He missed a June repayment deadline and the Senate has been garnishing his wages. He has disputed the audit’s findings, saying he met the primary residence criteria.
Brazeau is also facing separate assault and sexual assault charges stemming from a domestic incident in February. He is next scheduled to appear in court on these charges next February.
The RCMP is investigating Duffy on allegations of fraud and breach of trust over living and other expenses he claimed that an outside audit deemed ineligible.
In court documents filed in July, the Mounties alleged that Duffy broke the law by accepting “an advantage or benefit of money ($90, 124.27) from Nigel Wright.” The criminal code states that government officials and employees are prohibited from accepting money from anybody who has “dealings with the Government of Canada,” without the written approval from the head of the branch of government that employs them.
Duffy is also being investigated on two counts of alleged breach of trust related to his housing and per diem claims, according to the court documents. The RCMP is looking back at Duffy’s claims dating back to Dec. 22, 2008, when he was first appointed to the Senate.
The Mounties allege Duffy “maintains that his primary residence is in P.E.I. so that he can collect housing and travel allowances from the Senate, however uses his Ottawa residence as his primary residence when convenient, such as when dealing with OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) so that he can obtain medical coverage in Ontario,” the lead investigator wrote as an example.
Investigators had reviewed Elections Canada records by the time these documents were filed in July. But they were requesting all of Duffy’s cellphone and corporate credit card records.
In court documents filed in August, the Mounties were seeking bank documents related to his claims, and in October filed another request for more bank records over allegations he paid a friend $65,000 for work that investigators allege “was of little or no value.”
The Mounties allege the former senator committed fraud and breach of trust for filing inappropriate expense claims, largely related to his living expense claims filed between Dec. 2, 2003 and July 1, 2013.
In court documents filed in October, the Mounties sought access to Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada accounts associated with Harb in order to continue their investigation.
The Mounties allege that during different time periods since 2003, Harb claimed homes in Cobden and Westmeath, Ont., as his primary residences even though he lived in Ottawa.
Harb resigned from the upper chamber in August and repaid about $230,000 in ineligible expenses he claimed over an eight-year period.