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UPDATE: RCMP federal financial integrity unit called to investigate TNRD spending

Spending investigations by police have moved up to the provincial Financial Integrity unit following assessments at the local detachment.
May 06, 2021 - 11:03 AM

RCMP have launched a criminal investigation into financial irregularities at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

Following assessments by Kamloops RCMP, investigators at the local detachment decided it best to move the investigation to the Federal Serious and Organized Crime Financial Integrity Unit, according to an RCMP media release.

“FSOC will be the lead investigative unit for this case and Kamloops RCMP will assist them as needed. FSOC will bring the expertise and resources necessary to ensure a thorough investigation with public interest in mind,” Staff Sgt. Simon Pillay of Kamloops RCMP Serious Crimes Unit said in the release.

READ MORE: Firm chosen for audit of Thompson-Nicola regional district spending

Information was brought to Kamloops RCMP on March 23 by members representing the interest of the TNRD, RCMP said.

"Following an assessment of the information presented, the Kamloops RCMP was able to establish a better understanding of the scope of that investigation and conduct internal consultations surrounding the most appropriate and timely police response in terms of resourcing and expertise,” Staff Sgt. Pillay said in the release.

Sgt. Kris Clark, spokesperson for the FSOC, could not confirm whether suspicion of criminality has changed since the investigation was transferred to E Division.

Parallel but separate to the police investigation, the regional district recently selected BDO Canada LLP to conduct a forensic audit of spending at the district, spanning five years of expenses between 2015 and 2020.

Neither Sgt. Clark nor regional district board chair Ken Gillis expects the RCMP investigation to interfere with the ongoing forensic audit. 

However, Gillis said it's likely too soon to tell whether a police investigation could inhibit the transparency of that audit.

"I don't think I can answer that now... simply because I don't know the answer. But I certainly hope not, because we've committed to making the results of that public as soon as we can after it's concluded," Gillis said.

READ MORE: It shouldn’t have been so hard to track wasteful spending at TNRD

The forensic audit began this week. Gillis said he hopes to see the results of that investigation be made public by mid-June, it's possible it could take longer for the investigators to reach their conclusions.

While BDO was given instruction to investigate five years worth of financial records, they are also allowed to decide whether they need to look beyond that timeline.

"They can go wherever they want," Gillis said. "I don't speak to BDO, no board member does, other than staff being interviewed. Only CAO Mr. Hildebrand and corporate officer Deanna Campbell are in direct contact, because neither of them were (at the regional district) during the spending in question."

The financial forensic audit taken on by BDO Canada is slated to cost between $50,000 and $75,000, and will be a "deep dive" into controls and practices the district has in place to regulate spending by staff and elected officials.

After former CAO left the district in 2020 with a six-figure payout, KTW reported over $500,000 in charges to his corporate credit cards for lavish dinners, liquor and gifts.

READ MORE: TNRD confirms six-figure payout in former CAO's departure

— This story was updated at 11:02 a.m. Thursday, May 6, 2021, to add comment from Ken Gillis and Sgt. Kris Clark.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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