Former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz received thousands of dollars in personal cheques from Caspian Construction, the contractor at the centre of a police investigation into the construction of the city's new police headquarters, according to information to obtain a search warrant that was unsealed today.
An estimated 10 to 12 cheques were issued by Caspian to Katz around 2013, according to an affidavit filed by RCMP Const. Marc Allard and based on statements from company employees.
The affidavit was used to obtain a warrant to search Caspian's offices in December 2014.
- Fraud, fake documents alleged in Winnipeg police HQ investigation
- RCMP launch criminal probe into Winnipeg police HQ project
- Audit finds 'gaps' in way City of Winnipeg handled police HQ
Allard said a senior accounting assistant who worked with Caspian for five years told investigators "the cheques were sporadic, sometimes in the amount of a few thousand."
She was told by her superiors the cheques were payment for Winnipeg Jets tickets or concert tickets at the MTS Centre to share a box, Allard's affidavit said.
There was one cheque issued to Katz for $30,000, according to the court documents, and police said the accounting assistant was advised it was because "the fees for the MTS box had come due."
Another former accounting assistant employed by Caspian told police "there were a couple of cheques written to Katz during her employment with Caspian."
She told police she entered a cheque to Katz in the accounting system for $4,000 or $6,000. She filed a copy of the cheque, which was stamped by Caspian owner Armik Babakhanians' signature, into a folder marked "K" for Katz, according to the document.
The former accounting assistant said she discovered another cheque for Katz in this folder for around $6,000. The document noted that "both cheques were out of the Caspian Construction account and were personal cheques to Katz and not to a named company."
When reached by CBC News on Monday, Katz said, "Obviously it appears I've sold off some seats and I don't know where the problem is there, but I appreciate you enlightening me, because no one ever talked to me."
Katz said he has always been willing to speak to the RCMP about their investigation, but he was never contacted.
'There is no relationship,' says Katz
Katz said he has never been involved in any business dealings with Caspian Construction or Armik Babakhanians.
"There is no relationship. On many occasions, all sorts of people call me up for tickets for all sorts of stuff … concerts, et cetera," Katz said.
"Someone would ask me, 'Can you get tickets for a sold-out event?' I would get them tickets and they would pay me back."
Katz said numerous acquaintances would ask for tickets. He would put them on his credit card and they would pay him back, he added.
He added that he does not a share a box at the MTS Centre with Babakhanians, but he said Babakhanians did buy a portion of the box at one time.
"I have basically put together a scenario for Jets tickets, absolutely … it varies every year, who's in it," Katz said, adding that Babakhanians was one of several people that bought space in the box.
Katz said he didn't feel it was necessary to disclose the relationship with Babakhanians to auditors who were examining the police headquarters project.
Armik Babakhanian declined to comment on the search warrant documents and referred CBC to his lawyer. The lawyer has not yet responded.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.