Heads rolling over Nunavut Business Credit Corp. report
The Nunavut government continued to reel from a damning auditor general's report on the Nunavut Business Credit Corp., as Finance Minister David Simailak fired his assistant and accepted resignations from three of the Crown corporation's board members.
Simailak, who is also the economic development minister, wouldn't say Wednesday why he dismissed Chris Lalande the day before, saying it was an internal matter. The role was filled Wednesday by John Lamb, the director of the government's devolution division.
Lalande's dismissal came on the heels of a report by federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser thatfound the NBCC mismanaged some loans and did not monitor others.
In her report, tabled in the Nunavut legislature on Monday, Fraser also found shoddily kept records, prompting her to refuse to approve the corporation's financial statements for 2005-2006.
The day after the report was tabled, three board members handed in their resignations: chairman Bob Hanson, vice-chairwoman Ruth Niptanatiak-Wilcox and board member Ike Haulli.
"I spoke with the three directors that were directors during that particular [period] 2005-2006. Once I spoke with them, they submitted their resignations," Simailak said.
Fraser's report found that the corporation's board failed to ensure public funds were protected. The board's chair was heavily involved in the management of the corporation's daily operations, which contributed to confusion over proper roles and responsibilities, the report said.
In addition to accepting the resignations, Simailak suspended operations at the corporation. He said they will resume next week after an interim board is appointed.
The territory's comptroller-general has asked the RCMP to investigate whether fraud or theft occurred at the NBCC.
While some regular MLAs accused the government of running damage control in the last couple of days, Premier Paul Okalik defended his government's actions on Wednesday, saying it has acted on the troubled corporation for the last year and a half.
"As we found more information, we acted. So it's not just yesterday that we acted on it, trying to do something about this institution," Okalik said.
In December 2006, Okalik stripped MLA and longtime cabinet minister Olayuk Akesuk of his portfolio as minister of economic development, giving that responsibility to Simailak. At the time, Okalik declined to comment on why he shuffled Akesuk out of economic development.