NB Liquor CEO's conflict of interest hearing wraps up
The two-day hearing into allegations of conflict of interest against the head of NB Liquor Dana Clendenning wrapped up Tuesday, with Court of Queen's Bench Justice Thomas Riordon reserving judgment.
"All we can do now is wait for the judge's decision, and we'll abide by whatever that decision might be," Clendenning said. "I'm feeling pretty good. But you never know what can happen in a situation like this."
Clendenning is accused of getting paid as a consultant-lobbyist for a businessman after being appointed president and CEO of the Crown corporation.
But a former Business New Brunswick minister and two other department officials testified they weren't under any influence or pressure from Clendenning.
Finance Minister Greg Byrne has been a close friend of Clendenning for more than 20 years. Clendenning has chaired Byrne's election campaigns, and Byrne has served as Clendenning's lawyer.
But Byrne said Tuesday Clendenning did not lobby him or pressure him in any way when he was the minister of Business New Brunswick to get funding for businessman Barry O'Donnell.
O'Donnell claims he was paying Clendenning a monthly fee to help him secure government funding for his call-centre business, even after Clendenning was appointed the head of NB Liquor.
Clendenning said the money was for advising O'Donnell about a call centre he had sold to him in March 2005.
Byrne was Clendenning's lawyer and helped him draft that sales agreement. He said he wasn't aware of any consulting fee.
Byrne said Clendenning may have given him a "heads-up" in 2007 that O'Donnell would be calling, looking for funding. But that was all, he said.
Byrne said he talked to O'Donnell on the phone, and met with him at least twice, but none of that was unusual.
O'Donnell's lawyer, Randy Bishop, argued that even if Clendenning didn't actually use his influence, but only offered to, he would still be in violation of the New Brunswick Conflict of Interest Act.
Bishop called it "suspicious" that Clendenning's invoices jumped from $2,500 a month to $4,000 after the Liberals were elected.
The judge is expected to render his decision on the case within 60 days.