Deceased former principal secretary of N.B. vice-regal office embezzled funds: RCMP - InfoNews

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Deceased former principal secretary of N.B. vice-regal office embezzled funds: RCMP

New Brunswick's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. A senior civil servant who had control of the former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor's finances is accused of siphoning thousands of dollars in public funds into his personal coffers between 2012 and 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
September 01, 2020 - 1:09 PM

FREDERICTON - A senior civil servant who had control of the former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor's finances is accused of siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds into his personal coffers between 2012 and 2019.

Court documents reveal the RCMP is alleging Tim Richardson, the deceased former principal secretary of the vice-regal office, shifted $719,620 of funds from the lieutenant-governor's budget into his personal bank account. The RCMP have not laid charges in this case.

The fraud allegations are found in an Aug. 17 affidavit sworn before the Court of Queen's Bench, by an RCMP commercial crime investigator seeking to prevent the sale of Richardson's home in Fredericton.

Court documents indicate government auditors were told by former Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau — who died in August 2019 — that she did not have discussions with Richardson on the matter.

An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday the New Brunswick comptroller is investigating the financial irregularities at the lieutenant-governor's office, and that no charges have been laid. The police investigation began in August following a 2019 review by New Brunswick's comptroller.

Judy Wagner, private secretary to New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy, said Tuesday in an email that since the 2019 review, her office has worked with the comptroller to institute several measures to improve spending controls.

"The bank accounts have been separated per federal requirements, two signatures are required on all financial transactions, and detailed bookkeeping practices are being followed," she said.

"There is significant transparency in the office respecting financial matters and there are strict limitations and controls on any cash transactions."

The RCMP investigator cited in the affidavit alleges Richardson made grant requests for non-existent employees at Roy Vienneau's office.

Richardson allegedly requested money from the province for three different positions, yet since 2010, only one person has been listed as a full-time employee under the province's payroll, along with some part-time tour guides.

A forensic accountant assisting the RCMP investigation calculated the value of the provincial grant application between 2012-19 was $383,311 more than the sum of the full-time employee's salary and that of all the tour guides.

"The office of the comptroller of New Brunswick found an absence of financial controls in all areas of their review," according to the Aug. 17 affidavit. "Timothy Richardson had sole access and signing authority for the office of the lieutenant governor's bank accounts ... was the only person with a bank card and online access."

Richardson allegedly transferred money from the federal Heritage Department, the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Government House and from public donations, into the personal bank account.

The former civil servant allegedly had several overdue credit card statements, bills and a notice from a collection agency "indicating financial pressure." Richardson is accused of sending $360,000 to one person, whose identity was redacted in the documents.

The affidavit said Richardson has died, but did not include details.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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