Fantino refers potential conflict of interest case to watchdog
Posted: Feb 14, 2013 3:38 PM ET
Last Updated: Feb 14, 2013 10:52 PM ET
International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino has referred a potential conflict of interest case to the public sector integrity commissioner.
A former executive with the Canadian International Development Agency who was at the centre of a recent whistleblower watchdog report went on to go work on a CIDA-funded project after he left the agency, according to a French media newspaper report on Thursday.
"It has come to my attention that a former CIDA employee may have been in a conflict of interest," Fantino said in a press release on Thursday.
Naresh Singh, the former CIDA executive, according to the media report, left the agency and went to work for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as the director in charge of overseeing a new $23.2-million CIDA-funded project. But he resigned from his post at the FCM on Monday, after media tried to reach him for an interview.
On Thursday, the FCM would not say whether Singh was the former CIDA executive singled out in last week's report by the public sector integrity commissioner, but in an email to CBC News confirmed that Singh resigned from the FCM.
"Naresh Singh resigned earlier this week as director of the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) program, to pursue other employment opportunities," said Mouktar Abdillahi, a media relations advisor for the FCM.
"I am deeply concerned about this issue, which is why I am immediately referring this matter to the public sector integrity commissioner for review," said Fantino.
Public office holders are subject to conflict of interest and post-employment rules.
While it is not clear whether Singh broke any rules or whether Mario Dion, the public integrity commissioner, will open a new investigation into the former CIDA executive, Fantino said future payments for this project will be withheld "until further notice."
The CIDA-funded project (CARILED) is a new, six-year program, being implemented by the FCM as the Canadian executing agency.
Watchdog finds CIDA exec broke the rules
Dion reported that a director general at CIDA had used government employees and equipment to help run a consulting business.
The executive had been with CIDA for nearly 10 years and was well aware of the rules in place guiding his behaviour, Dion said.
"It was not an oversight," Dion said in an interview.
The investigation began after a complaint was filed in 2010 accusing the executive, who is not named in the report, of using office resources such as fax machines and a government email address to conduct private business.
The executive also recruited administrative staff to assist in the job, which essentially was consulting to the private sector on the same subject matter the individual worked on in government, Dion said.
The investigation, which covered two years of records, confirmed the allegations.
The executive left the agency while the investigation was underway.
A spokeswoman for CIDA said the agency did not suffer any financial losses.
"There were rules in place but this individual broke them," Fantino said in a statement. "This misuse of time and resources is completely inappropriate."
The investigation found no widespread problems at the agency, just a single person who broke the rules. The agency's president promised to take steps to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, Dion noted.
Dion's office does not have the power to issue penalties or fines when they find cases of wrongdoing, and can only refer the matter to the department in question.
Troubling track record at agency
Financial management at CIDA has come under scrutiny in the past, most notably the case of former minister Bev Oda, who billed thousands in questionable expenses to taxpayers.
She left politics last year and was replaced by Fantino.
On its website, CIDA also notes a case in which not-for-profit organizations were wrongfully receiving payments.
The case came to light following a disclosure of wrongdoing and the incident was blamed on the failure to conduct appropriate oversight on spending.
"In response, CIDA has taken remedial measures including the reassignment of the employee to other unrelated duties and is pursuing repayment of relevant amounts from the non-for-profit organizations," the statement said.
40 other investigations underway
Tuesday's report is the third since Dion took over as commissioner in 2010, following the high-profile departure of his predecessor.
Christiane Ouimet retired just prior to an auditor general's report slamming her office for essentially failing to do its job.
Since it opened in 2007, there were just seven investigations before she left in 2010; Dion currently has more than 40 underway.With files from The Canadian Press
- Storify'd: Rae's surprise resignation prompts outpouring on twitter by Kady O'Malley Jun. 19, 2013 5:42 PM Soon to be former House colleagues from both sides of the aisle pay tribute to departing Liberal MP
Top News Headlines
- Obesity now recognized as a disease
- The American Medical Association has voted to recognize obesity as a disease, while doctors in Canada say they also treat it as such. more »
- Neil Macdonald: Washington's obsession with leakers
- Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are just the most prominent targets in an all-out legal and propaganda campaign that America's security apparatus is mounting against leakers everywhere, Neil Macdonald writes. more »
- Caregiving dads stigmatized at work suggests UofT study
- Fathers who participate in child rearing and housework are likely to be labeled slackers and "failed men" at work, according to a study spearheaded by researchers at the University of Toronto and Long Island University. Are active dads the norm at your workplace? more »
- Dozens of children seized from Manitoba Mennonite community
- Child welfare authorities have removed all but one child from a small Mennonite community in rural Manitoba. more »
Latest Politics News Headlines
- Canada joining Brazilian-led peacekeeping mission in Haiti
- A small platoon of Canadian troops are about to join a peacekeeping operation in Haiti under the command of Brazilian forces, in a long-delayed mission that has been kept inexplicably low on the political radar. more »
- MPs take stock as they wrap up Commons' spring sitting
- The NDP and Liberals held their final caucus meetings today before the summer break and Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan is holding a news conference to highlight what got accomplished in the last few months. more »
- Tory MP fined $155 for driving through Hill security stop
- Less than a week after Tories attacked NDP Leader Tom Mulcair for failing to stop for the RCMP on Parliament Hill, Conservative MP Eve Adams was caught and fined by security for reportedly talking on her cellphone as she drove through a checkpoint. more »
- Wearing a mask at a riot is now a crime
- The bill that bans the wearing of masks or disguises during a riot or unlawful assembly became one of Canada's newest laws today. more »
- Senator Tkachuk defends secretive committee's work Jun. 15, 2013 8:03 AM This week on The House, we ask Senator David Tkachuk about Mac Harb taking the Senate to court and Pamela Wallin's explanation for her expenses problems. Plus, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo has strong words for the Harper government's approach to First Nations issues. The Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt is here to respond.
- Bob Rae quits as MP in 'very emotional' decision
- 2 men jailed in Dominican wedding fight back in Canada
- Wearing a mask at a riot is now a crime
- B.C. teacher duct-taped students' mouths
- Half of First Nations children live in poverty
- Obesity now recognized as a disease
- Huge ancient city at Angkor Wat revealed by lasers
- Are e-cigarettes safe to puff?
- How open is Ottawa's new 'open data' website?