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Fraudulent billings discovered in Ottawa

Photo: Justin Tang The Canadian Press The Minister of Public Services and Procurement of Canada, Jean-Yves Duclos, during a press conference on Wednesday in Ottawa

Three federal government subcontractors who allegedly “fraudulently” invoiced sums of money to numerous departments and services are currently under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The amounts billed would amount to $5 million.

“My department has detected several cases of fraudulent invoicing implemented by subcontractors working on federal contracts between 2018 and 2022,” said the Minister of Public Services and Procurement of Canada, Jean-Yves Duclos, on Wednesday , in Ottawa.

Their scheme involved billing multiple organizations for the same period under separate contracts. Their security clearance was suspended. The individuals have not been named to avoid compromising the ongoing RCMP investigation.

These consultants, however, have no connection with the ArriveCAN saga. The investigations into the three individuals concerned were launched well before the controversy that has shaken Ottawa for several weeks. Between five and 10 other potential cases were detected as part of a broad civil service investigation, government officials said.

The Ministry of Supply continues to look for other similar cases, argued Minister Duclos. The latter also assured that measures were being implemented to recover the total amount, estimated at $5 million overpaid.

Called to react, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, indicated that the government should also recover the money lost in the ArriveCAN application affair.

Auditor General Karen Hogan calculated that the affair cost Ottawa $59.5 million. The first contract was initially valued at a tiny fraction of that estimate, at $2.35 million.

An integrity office

In the wake of these revelations, the government announced the creation of the Office of Supplier Integrity and Compliance, which will grant new powers to the government to prevent and detect this type of fraud.

It will now be possible to suspend or “deregister” a supplier in the absence of prosecution or criminal conviction. The government will also require “full transparency” from suppliers regarding their use of subcontractors and their pricing. This office must be set up in May.

Yves-François Blanchet fears that this new structure will cause even more delays.

The new office will carry out preliminary analyzes to identify possible cases of fraud, which will facilitate their detection, Minister Duclos believes. “This billing [to multiple ministries] has occurred because, until recently, information was stored in a paper format or within individual ministries. It was difficult for the billing teams to detect these cases,” he explained.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 98% of government contracts are digitized and sent electronically, he adds. “We are able to [detect] things that we were not able to do just a few months ago. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116