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Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk doesn't see much hope for recovering the missing money. (CBC)

Criminal charges will not be laid in the case of hundreds of thousands of dollars that never made it into bank accounts at Sudbury city hall. That means there will likely be no way the city can recover its missing $500,000.

A private company hired by the city to sell bus tickets between 1999 and 2009 didn't turn over the city's share of the proceeds, totaling $800,000.

Provincial police investigators say there were bad business practices on both sides, but no evidence of criminal activity.

About $500,000 is still owed to the city.

Greater Sudbury can't sue the kiosk operator, because it didn't file a civil lawsuit within two years after the termination of the contract.

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Sudbury police Chief Frank Elsner said there is no evidence the ticket-kiosk operator deliberately took the money. (CBC)

The Ontario Provincial Police spent months going over documents and interviewing those involved in what's become known as "the transit-ticket scandal."

But Sudbury police Chief Frank Elsner said to lay criminal charges, investigators need to show the ticket-kiosk operator, Tony Sharma, deliberately took the money. That's evidence they do not have.

"Was he just a bad business person, or was he purposely trying to hoodwink the city? That we'll never know," Elsner said.

City council needed criminal charges to be laid in order to sue Tony Sharma, the owner of the private company, for the rest.

Mayor Marianne Matichuk said the city is looking into other ways of recovering the outstanding half-million dollars, but she isn't pinning her hopes on that.

"I think we need to learn what happened and move on. Sometimes you have to learn, and it's an expensive lesson," she said.

The city says it has tightened up its internal procedures to make sure this never happens again.

Matichuk also said "action has been taken" with city employees involved in this case, but refused to say any more.