National Newswatch

OTTAWA - Excerpts from an RCMP court document released Wednesday related to an investigation into a secret $90,000 payment to Sen. Mike Duffy in March by Nigel Wright, then chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. None of the allegations below has been proven in court.

'Conclusion' of Nov. 15 statement by RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton, chief investigator, in seeking a court order to obtain bank records and emails:

"Based on the investigation and evidence gathered to date, I believe that Nigel Wright, as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, believed from a moral and ethical position that Senator Duffy should pay $90,000 to the public purse. Also as Chief of Staff, it was his job to mitigate political issues that posed problems for the Prime Minister. I do not believe that he believed that Senator Duffy had committed a criminal offence by filing living allowance expense claims, but rather that Senator Duffy had crossed ethical boundaries by collecting an allowance for a house that he has lived in for many years prior to being appointed to the Senate. Mr. Wright rejected a condition to not refer Senator Duffy's expenses to the RCMP in the future, believing that if criminality was revealed, it should be referred. The e-mails show that Mr. Wright wanted Senator Duffy to repay the money, and at various times was of the belief that Senator Duffy was going to repay. ...

With all details of the agreement worked out, Mr. Wright took the personal decision to repay the $90,172.24. He told few people. ...

Nigel Wright and Senator Duffy, both of whom have dealings with the government of Canada, committed fraud on the government by giving and receiving that sum of money, without prior written approval from the head of the branch of government with whom they had dealings. Senator Duffy set a list of five conditions under which he would publicly repay the money and admit his error. That list included the condition that he be kept 'whole,' or reimbursed the costs involved. That agreement, to give and accept money in exchange for something to be done or omitted to be done, constitutes a bribery offence. Regarding the breach of trust, both Mr. Wright and Senator Duffy, officials acting in connection with the duties of their offices, breached the standard of responsibility and conduct demanded of them in their positions of public trust. They used their offices for a dishonest purpose, other than for the public good."


Summary by Cpl. Horton of an interview by RCMP of Nigel Wright on July 18, in the presence of Wright's lawyers:

"Mr. Wright explained that he is financially comfortable, having been successful in the private sector prior to agreeing to work within the PMO. Since taking on the position within the PMO he has not filed expense claims for anything, including meals, flights hotels, or legal fees. He estimates he is out of pocket tens of thousands of dollars, but it is his global view and contribution to public policy that taxpayers not bear the cost of his position if he can legitimately afford to fund it himself. Because of this (sic) personal beliefs and financial ability, he took the personal decision at the time to pay back the $90,000. He did not view it as something out of the norm for him to do, and was part of being a good person. He said it was a personal decision, and he did not want a lot of people to know about it."


The Canadian Press
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