The police investigation ensued after Regional Councillor John Sprovieri demanded an investigation once the issue about the secretive fund came to light.
Joshua Colley, the Sgt. of Peel Police says that the Fraud Bureau of the Peel Regional Police is currently investigating the matter. He says that he is unable to share further more so specific questions because that is prohibited for active investigations. All he can confirm is that the investigation is going back to 2009, the year the fraud allegedly started.
Back in June, Brampton councilors unanimously voted for the investigation to commence to hopefully uncover more of the fraud, including who approved the release of funds and the names of people who received payments. This was prompted as a reaction to an internal audit process.
In view of this, the spokesperson of the City of Brampton confirmed that police have already been assigned to investigate the case but they won’t share whether the investigation involved questioning the city staffers, saying that it is now a police matter and not under the city anymore.
It is to be noted that prior to the June vote, councilors thought that the Peel Regional Police will be under pressure to let go of the investigation because the local police budget passes through the regional council. Some councilors voiced out that they wanted the RCMP or perhaps the Ontario Provincial Police to lead the investigation instead of the Peel Regional Police to avoid any possible issues such as a potential conflict or the appearance of one from the people’s point of view.
In view of the above, Regional Councillor Martin Madeiros said that he has full confidence in the local police force although motioned for a request to have an external police investigation. He shares that a perception of conflict of interest cannot be avoided because some councilors have control over the police budget.
It is said that senior staff created the OPR program that did not inform elected officials about their role in paying hundreds of thousands a year to non-union employees, payments approved by them that can also include payments to themselves.
The audit investigation focused on the time period between January 2009 and May 2014. In this time period, payments handed to individual staff ranged between $123 to more than $95,000. 8 employees were the recipients of a sum totaling $316,000.
The report even allowed “favouritism” as one of the reasons to give an OPR bonus. The paper that listed this was not meant to be seen by the council nor the public. The report also stated that the most senior bureaucrats are fully aware of this.
Brampton auditors share that the secret bonuses were not allowed under relevant rules and that the OPR fell to mismanagement and misuse later. Senior staffs are clamoring for measures to be put in place so something like this does not happen again in the future.
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