Agency can't explain how missing ex-employee under attack by clients was ever hired
Daniel Bard of Moncton is being investigated for breach of trust, accused of taking clients' money
The Moncton-area economic development agency at the centre of a missing money scandal involving a former employee has no answers about the man's whereabouts or how someone with judgments piling up in civil court slipped through the vetting process.
Daniel Bard worked for 3+ Corporation — to which the municipalities of Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview give more than $500,000 annually — between July 2016 and January 2018.
RCMP are now investigating him for breach of trust, and at least four New Brunswick businesses have filed civil lawsuits against him since 2016.
The cases allege Bard offered to help small businesses through his personal venture management company, asking them for a brokerage fee in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, in exchange for helping to secure loans for them, but money he promised never came through.
Bard himself has been elusive, and those he had dealings with believe he could be out of the country.
'I have that exact same question'
Bard had a legal ruling against him going back to 2009 — a judge had ordered him to pay a Quebec-based metal company $37,000, plus interest, for failure to deliver on a payment.
That would have been publicly available information at the time he was hired.
The CEO of 3+, Susy Campos, said in an interview with CBC News on Tuesday that she is not sure how Daniel Bard came to be hired.
"Just like everyone else I have that exact same question," said Campos.
"I suspect that the independent review will reveal what the hiring process was. I of course can't answer that question because I wasn't here."
Campos has been CEO of 3+ since June.
She said the findings of an independent investigation she hopes will be concluded by early 2020 will be made public.
Campos said she was made aware of the allegations involving Bard at the end of August, when alleged victims Saly and Clinton Davis came to her.
"I was quite alarmed," she said.
Campos said that during the internal investigation, she didn't find evidence of 3+ involvement in Bard's allegedly questionable activities. Asked what the investigation consisted of, she looked through files and spoke to the three current employees who were with the agency at the time.
"There's only so much I can look into, because many of the employees of that time are no longer here," said Campos.
She has not spoken to previous CEO Eric Mourant, who hired Bard and is no longer with the company either.
Baffled by assignments
What Campos said she finds unusual in the case is how Daniel Bard came to do one-on-one counselling with New Brunswick small business owners.
He was vice-president of investment attraction, meaning his job was to talk to companies from outside the province about investing in the greater Moncton area.
"That's what doesn't match for me," she said.
"We need to then look at the process of how they became in touch with 3+ and Daniel specifically."
It's not clear what role other 3+ employees may have had in sending clients Bard's way, especially since there was someone else at 3+ whose entire job it was to advise small business owners.
With regard to allegations 3+ enabled Bard and has a share of responsibility, Campos wouldn't comment until more about the extent of the connection is known.
Campos said Bard's job became irrelevant by 2018 because investment attraction was being taken over by Opportunities New Brunswick.
"It was mutually agreed to terminate the position."