Pamela Wallin's Senate expenses for board-related trips being investigated
Calendar confusion over medical appointment at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre or meeting with Munk himself
The RCMP are investigating 150 Senate expense claims made by Pamela Wallin, including those for 24 trips related to her work on corporate boards, according to documents filed in court.
The documents were filed Jan. 27, 2015, by RCMP Cpl. Rudy Exantus and released Monday at the Ottawa courthouse. The Mounties are seeking records they believe will show Gluskin Sheff & Associates and Porter Airlines, where Wallin served as a board member, reimbursed her for more than $27,000 in travel that she also claimed from the Senate.
But the allegations aren't limited to board meetings. In other cases, Wallin is alleged to have travelled to Toronto for personal appointments or events, including hair appointments or friends' retirement parties. In some of those cases, she has already repaid the cost of the travel.
One bizarre example highlighted by the investigator was seemingly originally noted as a March 2010 medical appointment, written as "[Echocardiogram], 3rd floor, Peter Monk [sic] Rm 530, Toronto General." The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is located at Toronto General Hospital.
But a spreadsheet provided to Deloitte, which conducted an audit for the Senate, said that Wallin was meeting with Munk, the founder of Barrick Gold.
Munk not in Canada that day
"Senator Wallin, in an interview with Deloitte, said that Peter Munk is someone she knew for a while and tries to keep in touch with.... Senator Wallin said that this generally can be called networking."
Munk, however, told the RCMP that while he knows Wallin, she isn't a personal friend. He also told the RCMP that he was in Switzerland on the date she claimed she was meeting with him, although he allowed that they may have spoken by phone. He said that he has never had a private lunch or dinner with Wallin.
Exantus wrote in the filing, known as an information to obtain a production order (ITO), that he believes Wallin committed breach of trust and defrauded the Senate of an amount exceeding $5,000 between Jan. 26, 2009, and Oct. 3, 2012.
Wallin was named to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Jan. 2, 2009, according to the parliamentary website.
Wallin filed 246 travel claims in the time examined. Wallin left the Conservative caucus in May 2013, as controversy built over spending by her and senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.
Of those, Exantus said 150 expense claims are "suspicious" and that the investigation into those claims continues.
Assistants thought Wallin lived in Toronto
In a statement, Wallin's lawyer told CBC News that there was no possible advantage for Wallin in claiming the board expenses.
"It was the policy of those companies on whose board Senator Wallin sat to reimburse her for expenses for travelling to Ottawa, to Toronto back to Ottawa, to attend board meetings or other corporate events," Terrence O'Sullivan said.
"Through administrative errors some of those trips were charged to the Senate rather than to those companies. There was no advantage or possible advantage to Senator Wallin in so doing, since those companies would have paid for those trips. This was fully explained nearly two years ago, when after the mistake was discovered the money was repaid to the Senate by Senator Wallin."
One of the revelations in the court records is that two of Wallin's executive assistants between 2009 and 2012 thought her primary residence was in Toronto, not Wadena, Sask.
Shelly Clark-Chenette was Wallin's assistant from January 2009 to August 2009 and told the RCMP she felt Wallin believed she was on some boards because she was a senator, thus making those commitments Senate-related.
Clark-Chenette told the RCMP that Wallin would get upset if she questioned Wallin's expenses, the court documents say.
"At times Senator Wallin would get mad, telling Shelly Clark-Chenette something to the effect of 'do it, just get it done, do it anyway,'" Exantus wrote in the ITO.
The Senate covers travel between Ottawa and a senator's primary residence if the residence is more than 100 kilometres away from the National Capital Region of Ottawa and Gatineau, Que. Senators are supposed to have a primary residence in the province from which they are appointed, but Wallin isn't the only senator to have had questions raised about that. Duffy, Brazeau and Harb are accused of wrongly claiming living expenses for their Ottawa and Gatineau homes.
Among the documents detailing the RCMP's probe into the suspended senator's expenses is a 2013 letter from her lawyer explaining why Wallin provided two different calendars to investigators. That letter was previously made public when Wallin appeared before a Senate committee.
Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau were suspended from the Senate more than a year ago over concerns about their expenses.
Harb, a former Liberal senator, retired in the wake of an audit report into his expenses.
Brazeau and Harb have been charged with one count each of fraud and breach of trust, while Duffy faces 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to a $90,000 payment from the prime minister's former chief of staff to repay Duffy's ineligible expenses. The three trials are all expected to get underway later this year.
Wallin, who has not been charged, has already repaid $154,191.29 to the Senate, according to the RCMP's court filing.
Harb was required to pay back even more — $189,923 plus interest, according to parliamentary public accounts. Brazeau's paycheque was being garnisheed until he was suspended without pay. He still owes $50,140, with interest accumulating.