Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Busted! And Wallin, Duffey, Wright .....?

Senate scandal: RCMP expected to charge Harb, Brazeau with fraud, breach of trust

The RCMP is expected to lay charges today of breach of trust and fraud against former Liberal senator Mac Harb and former Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau sources say

Tonda MacCharles
Ottawa Bureau Reporter
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Patrick Prazeau is alleged to have improperly claimed nearly $49,000 in housing expenses. (Dean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press File Photo)

In a move that underscores the seriousness of its ongoing probe, the RCMP is expected to lay charges today of breach of trust and fraud against former Liberal senator Mac Harb and former Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau, sources say.

Harb, who retired in August under a cloud, and Brazeau, who remains a senator but has been suspended, are among four senators facing investigation by the Mounties in relation to thousands of dollars in travel or housing claims which the Senate paid out.

Related

· Interactive: Senate expense data
· RCMP Senate probe a high-wire act

Harb was additionally under investigation for mortgage fraud in connection with loans taken out and backed by a property the RCMP says Harb claimed as a solely owned asset, which was not in fact his.

The RCMP is expected to announce the charges at a news conference this morning, according to a source.
Harb repaid more than $230,000 to the Senate before retiring in August. He had claimed two different homes as his primary residence over the years. The first was a home in Cobden, 123 km from Ottawa, which he bought in 2003 and sold in 2011. By this time he had also purchased a small home in Westmeath, Ontario northwest of Ottawa.

The RCMP has already stated it does not believe Harb lived primarily at either — the Cobden home being uninhabitable — and that he lived primarily in the national capital region, and was therefore not entitled to collect a housing allowance.

Brazeau, who is alleged to have improperly claimed nearly $49,000 in housing expenses, was seeing his wages garnisheed before a November vote in the Senate led to the suspension of him and his former Conservative colleagues Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.

The probe into the two other cases — Duffy and Wallin — continues, sources say.

Each case is slightly different, according to the RCMP’s outline in previously filed court documents.

Duffy, says Corporal Greg Horton, is under investigation in connection with improper living expenses as well as improper use of Senate resources in connection with a contract to a friend for little or no work. The Mounties are also probing the circumstances around a gift of more than $90,000 that Nigel Wright, former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, gave to Duffy to cover his debt to the senate.

Wallin’s issues revolve around expenses connected to claims for travel between Ottawa and Saskatchewan. She too has repaid to the senate, nearly $140,000. The RCMP has also received documents from the Deloitte audit firm in relation to the Wallin investigation.

The vote that suspended Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin stripped them of their annual salaries of $135,000 but left them with health and life insurance pending the outcome of investigations.

The federal auditor general has now also undertaken a full audit if all other senators expense claims.

Update: The RCMP are scheduled to deliver a statement at 11:00 a.m. at National Division Headquarters in Ottawa.

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