Former McGill superhospital director investigated for fraud
A former director at McGill University Health Centre is being investigated for allegedly defrauding the facility out of $1.6 million.
A report by Radio-Canada's investigative team Enquête uncovered search warrants surrounding the activities of the MUHC's former director of human resources, Stella Lopreste, after the province's anti-corruption squad raided MUHC offices last week for information on the contract to build the superhospital.
The allegations of fraud cover the period from when she started working at the hospital in 2000 until April 2010.
The investigation is over allegations that Lopreste used up to $1.6 million from the health centre's budget for personal means.
No charges have been laid against Lopreste.
According to the search warrant obtained by Radio-Canada, the following allegations were made against Lopreste:
- Falsifying bills to claim personal expenses such as luxury clothes, meals out and flower deliveries.
- Creating false business meetings to claim personal travel expenses.
- Buying books, cellphones and a computer.
The warrant alleges all the expenses were charged to the MUHC's budget and that Lopreste asked several of her employees to modify receipts to be able to charge them.
When Radio-Canada's investigative unit contacted Lopreste, she said she was surprised by the allegations.
The MUHC refused to comment on the search warrant since the matter is under investigation but issued a short statement.
"Ms. Lopreste left the McGill University Health Centre in 2011. The Sûreté du Québec has launched an investigation into her activities. We are collaborating fully. The Sûreté du Québec has requested documents that we believe to be confidential and protected by lawyer privilege. The SQ is seeking access to them via the courts. As the matter is currently under investigation, we cannot make any further comment."
The search warrant states Lopreste left the MUHC after an internal investigation into some irregularities.
Earlier this week, investigators with the anti-corruption unit arrived at the offcies of MUHC looking for information related to the awarding of contracts for the Glen site of the MUHC's new superhospital.
The project, a public-private partnership, was awarded in 2010 to the consortium Groupe Immobilier Santé McGill.