Is It Time to Develop a Whistleblower Program for the Mortgage Industry?

whistleblower

An up to $5 million offer will be rewarded to whistleblowers for Ontario’s securities regulator newly launched whistleblower program. The program’s aim is to lead to the prosecution of fraudsters, fraud being one of the biggest reasons for business losses of billions of dollars a year. With this in the works, is it time for the mortgage industry to launch a whistleblower program as well?

The answer to this is, of course, not as easy as the question itself although the allure of the benefits from the Ontario Securities Commission isn’t easy to ignore either. The program gives initiatives to whistleblowers and encourages people to let the commission know of any market manipulation, potential instances of fraud, and other unsavoury activities concerning the securities industry.

The Ontario Securities Commission Whistleblower Program

An incentive of up to $5 million is being offered by the commission for truly valuable information. Besides the cash incentive, the whistleblower will also be extended some protection – a first in Canada!

It should be noted that similar programs have been launched in the past but was met with little success. Nevertheless, this program by the Ontario Securities Commission is definitely a step in the right direction, so the question is…

Should This Also Be Applied to the Mortgage Sector?

As you may have already guessed, the answer to this question will not be a straight one as well. Tip lines are known to have a not-so-high success rate.

Butler Mortgage’s broker Ron Butler was quoted by MortgageBrokerNews.ca to have said the same about success rates for whistleblower programs. He cited similar programs in the past that are good intentions, but did not garner good results. He further cited the US’s SEC as an example, saying that although it is our neighbour’s longest-lived and biggest financial services tip line, the failures far outweigh the few successes. The reason for this is because some tips have been ignored by the organization if the person being reported is well-connected or has a great reputation. Bernie Madoff has been reported 5 times by the same securities analyst, but the SEC repeatedly ignored all 5 letters/reports. The reason being Bernie Madoff is a well-connected individual.

Tip lines can become problematic because separating false tips from real ones can be quite challenging. Former employees and terminated agents are known to send in fraudulent tips to wreak havoc on the life of someone they’re holding a grudge against. It is instances like this that make tip lines not very reliable more so if mismanaged.

Perhaps the to get the best use out of tip lines, it should be monitored by professionals who know their way in getting the truth out of every situation. Private investigation firms with decades of experience and a proven track record could be utilized, but that will, of course, cost money as every report or letter will have to be addressed.

With everything said, having a whistleblower program is only as good as its implementation. Seek a professional to handle yours should you decide to implement one in your organization. Contact us at Haywood Hunt for an obligation-free initial consultation to know more about how private investigators can help you with your whistleblower program.

 

Former Region of Peel employee charged with fraud, breach of trust

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A Toronto woman and former Region of Peel employee is facing fraud charges after an investigation involving a spiritual healer and false claims being made for benefits totalling $50,000.

The accused woman worked as a case worker for the Ontario Works Assistance Program for the Region of Peel from Aug. 21, 2009 to June 6, 2014 before being terminated, police said.

She was charged after police allege a Region of Peel employee issued funds to people who met specific legislated criteria for eligibility in receiving “monetary benefits” and allege people were “manipulated” into making false claims for benefits offered by the Region of Peel.

The Peel employee would personally approve the cases and receive “personal monetary gain” from them, police said in a release.

Officers also say the employee introduced clients to her husband who posed as a spiritual healer and would offer his services to these clients and receive payment.

Police say the Region of Peel employee “benefitted financially” and “misused her authority” as she had access to her husband’s case file and “issued him funds he was not eligible for.”

Police say the total amount of funds involved in the fraud is $50,000.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Sandra Samaroo, 50, of Toronto, is charged with fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. Her common law spouse, Mootilal Ramphal, 57, of Toronto, is charged with fraud over $5,000.

Anyone with information can call police at 905-453-2121, ext. 3330.  Information can also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting their website at www.peelcrimestoppers.ca, or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word “Peel” and then your tip.

Fraud allegations around Mitch Marner shirt raise questions about sports memorabilia

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Allegations of fraud and “dishonourable conduct” now being levelled against the Canadian Hockey League’s 2016 Memorial Cup champion London Knights raise new questions about the authenticity of high-priced sports memorabilia.

Scott Galbraith, an avid hockey jersey collector from London, Ont., is claiming, in a civil statement of claim, that he paid nearly $4,000 for a Knights jersey used in a game and was handed a fake.

The jersey was advertised to be have been worn last season by first-round Toronto Maple Leaf draftee and 2016 winner of the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player award, Mitchell Marner.

“Within two seconds, I knew that it wasn’t real,” Galbraith said in an exclusive interview with the Star. “I’ve been collecting these things for a long time. This jersey was brand new.”

The jersey as displayed on the auction site.
The jersey as displayed on the auction site.

By “knowingly” passing off a “false letter of authenticity” as authentic and “fabricating a fake game-worn jersey,” the Knights committed “fraud, bad faith, high-handed, disreputable and dishonourable conduct,” reads the statement of claim filed in a London courthouse Tuesday and obtained by the Toronto Star.

The $100,000-claim includes $80,000 for aggravated and punitive damages, and, in addition to the London Knights, names the Canadian Hockey League, which hosted the online jersey auction, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, which received a donated jersey from the Knights that Galbraith believes is his.

The allegations have not been proven in court and no statements of defence have yet been filed.

Trevor Whiffen, governor of the London Knights, said the club honoured its commitment to Galbraith, insisting the sweater was, indeed, worn by Marner during the team’s regular season last year.

“We said we’d give him a game-worn sweater. He was given a game-worn sweater,” he said in an interview.

When Galbraith complained initially to the team, team officials offered him a refund, Whiffen said.

“We’ve tried to do everything we can to pacify a long-time Knights fan. We said if you’re not satisfied, we’ll refund your money. He didn’t want that.”

Gene Chiarello, Galbraith’s London lawyer — he was a Knights player, himself, in the 1990s — says the jersey provides compelling evidence to refute the club’s claim of authenticity.

According to the statement of claim, “the jersey issued to him was brand new and never worn in any games during the regular season, play-offs, or the Memorial Cup tournament, nor was it the jersey posted in photographs on the CHL auction website.”

Chiarello said in an interview, “My client is interested in the jersey, not the money. He paid money and he should get the jersey he paid for. He doesn’t have that.”

In response to a request for an interview, CHL president David Branch referred all questions on the matter to Whiffen.

The Hockey Hall of Fame is accused in the claim of “unlawfully retaining and using property to which it does not have title.”

The claim seeks a court order compelling its return to Galbraith.

Hockey Hall of Famed spokesperson Kelly Masse said, in an email response to the Star Monday, that the Marner game-worn jersey was “returned to the Knights earlier today per arrangements made last week.”

Whiffen said the club took steps to get the jersey back from the Hall of Fame and give it to Galbraith in exchange for a signed confidentiality release, but Galbraith refused to comply.

“They want to pursue the right to still sue,” he said.

Chiarello said his client should not have to sign a release to obtain an item that is rightfully his.

When Galbraith won an online auction for the jersey in May, the Knights had just won the Ontario Hockey League championship and earned entry into the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup championship series.

The CHL is a primary feeder system for the National Hockey League featuring players generally aged 16 to 20.

After returning victorious from the Memorial Cup championships in Alberta, the Knights were to provide winners of the jersey auctions with their purchases, the statement of claim reads.

When Galbraith contacted the team to collect his jersey, a team official told him the shirt had been loaned to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the claim says.

After several weeks of unanswered requests, Galbraith received an email from a representative of the team on July 25, the statement claims.

That email to Galbraith, included in the statement of claim, said: “We have secured your jersey worn by Mitch Marner for the 2015/2016 season. The Marner jersey currently displayed at the Hockey Hall of Fame was worn only at the Memorial Cup. If you would like us to send the jersey to you, please provide your mailing address.”

Suspicious, Galbraith, who has purchased and sold more than 250 collector hockey jerseys, reviewed high-resolution game photographs of Marner’s jerseys and examined details such as loose threads, stitching and puck markings.

He concluded Marner, “wore the same black jersey in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs as he did in the Memorial Cup,” the statement of claim reads. “This was contrary to (the team representative’s)representation that the Marner jersey worn in competition at the Memorial Cup was ‘worn only at the Memorial Cup’ and not before,” the statement reads.

In an interview, Galbraith said he was also suspicious because of the long delay from the club in responding to his request for the jersey.

“They found the jersey when I said was going to contact a lawyer, which was another red flag,” Galbraith said in an interview.

The Knights’ Whiffen says the delay happened because the team was in the process of firing its merchandise manager at that time.

“We had someone overseeing that and it wasn’t working out. We terminated his employment.”

Despite his suspicions, Galbraith showed up at the Knights’ merchandise store to collect the jersey offered.

The civil claim details a series of alleged inconsistencies between that jersey and those worn by Marner on the ice.

The "price-tag-style" sticker "perfectly intact" inside the jersey Scott Galbraith was given by the Knights.
The “price-tag-style” sticker “perfectly intact” inside the jersey Scott Galbraith was given by the Knights.  (GEOFF ROBINS)  

Among them: there was a “price-tag style” sticker “perfectly intact” inside the jersey Galbraith was given by the Knights. The statement of claim alleges such stickers are “quickly smudged off” of legitimate game-worn jerseys, “from the friction of wear and laundering.”

A crest on the left side of the chest denoting Marner’s role as alternate captain of the team was “not in a consistent location on the jersey presented to Galbraith when compared to photographs of the jersey worn by Marner in game action or photos posted of the jersey on the auction website.”

Scott Galbraith's suit also highlights the crest on the left side of the chest of the jersey that denotes Marner’s role as alternate captain of the team.
Scott Galbraith’s suit also highlights the crest on the left side of the chest of the jersey that denotes Marner’s role as alternate captain of the team.  (GEOFF ROBINS/TORONTO STAR)  

A stray thread that appears in high-resolution photos of the jersey Marner was wearing in both the playoffs and the Memorial Cup was missing on the jersey Galbraith was given by the Knights.

And the “fighting strap” — used to prevent the jersey from being removed during a fight — on the rear interior of the jersey Galbraith was given had apparently never been used.

The only signs of wear on the jersey Galbraith received, the statement reads, were “black streaks on the white crested numbers on the jersey’s back and shoulders.”

The claim alleges those streaks “appear to be purposely created with the edge of a black rubber hockey puck as they do not appear consistent with typical puck marks resulting from game action.”

In addition, the statement claims, “there is no odour to the jersey of either having been worn in a game or having been laundered.”

The Knights’ Whiffen dismissed those allegations, saying team jerseys are not laundered after every game, a single player can wear many jerseys over the course of a season or playoffs and efforts to match jerseys to photos is not a reliable method of proving authenticity.

“It is not a foolproof or precise process, because you would literally have to watch every shift played during the course of the season to know if every mark corresponded. It’s a tool, but hardly a science.”

Asked if there could have been a simple error resulting in Galbraith being given a new jersey, rather than a game-worn shirt, Whiffen said it was “unlikely.”

“Game-worn sweaters are overseen by our training staff,” he said. “Can I tell you how many games it was worn? No. We don’t track it.”

Chiarello, who is going up against his old team by representing Galbraith, calls this his way of representing the same fans who supported him as a player.

“I feel a loyalty to a guy like Scott who paid $20 to watch me play back in the 1990s. When he came to me with this issue, I was disappointed that a team that my name is linked with could potentially be doing this to fans who are responsible for putting the team on the pedestal it’s on.”

While the financial returns of CHL teams are not public, the London Knights are widely considered to be one of the most valuable and lucrative clubs in the Canadian Hockey League.

Marner, whose agent did not respond to interview requests for this story, logged the most points in the Ontario Hockey League in the 2015-16 season, with 116 points in 57 games. He was honoured with the Ontario Hockey League’s Red Tilson Trophy as the most outstanding player of the year, as well as the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy, as the MVP of the Memorial Cup Tournament.

“I really like the way he played,” said Galbraith, a fan of the team since childhood, who has been keeping his eye on Marner’s jersey all season with the intention of purchasing it.

“I knew I was going to go after this. I was taking pictures of it. I took screen shots of the jersey on TV and looked up photos online.”

It’s a habit that consumes much of his life, he says.

“If you ask my wife, she hates this.”

Employees Caught Abusing Healthcare Insurance Plan

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A few weeks ago, what was dubbed as Sudbury’s largest fraud trial came to a close with the guilty verdict handed out to fraudsters Dirk Plate and Paul Caron. The duo helped defraud about $24million from Atlas Copco Canada. Their sentencing hearing will be on October 25. The concluding chapter to this fraud case was brought with a whistleblower’s help.

Plate was Atlas Copco’s general manager at their Sudbury office from 2001 to 2007 and Caron managed Atlas Copco’s employee benefits as a Montreal insurance broker. Their fraud covered a period of six years.

Health Benefits Fraud

The disturbing fact is that overbilling health benefits is a common occurrence in Canada. In fact, the Canadian Health Care Anti-fraud Association reported that fraudulent billing activity is responsible for a private health care plan loss of $1.2 to $6 billion dollars a year.

The issue above presents a problem for employers. Employers are concerned about keeping health insurance costs down without resorting to cutting health benefits of employees.

Health benefit plans are being abused in various ways these days. Some employees can duplicate a billing by hiding the double billing between a stash of small medical bills. Sometimes a therapist can tell someone to come in for more unnecessary appointments to bill time. Also, some doctors may over-prescribe drugs that are on the expensive side although those medications may not really be needed.

Needless to say, employee abuse of their benefits plan is very common and can be a huge financial loss to a company. Below are some ways employers can protect themselves from health benefits fraud with the help of a plan provider.

Protect Your Business from Employee Health Benefits Fraud

Oftentimes employees commit fraud because they do not understand how this affects them and the company in the long run. If you are a plan provider, you have to inform your clients that plans are composed of the risk insurance and the transactional costs.

You may need to explain the direct relationship between the annual claims and the future viability of the plan you are providing. Your client needs to look at the whole picture.

You’ll have to carefully design the plan. Adding a layer of pre-authorization such as each procedure having to undergo pre-approval prior to completion.

A tiered plan that divides drugs into groups based on costs can mitigate costs. Here’s more detail about this.

Employees and employers both benefit from fighting health benefit plan abuse and fraud. Because abuse results to increased plan premium and costs, plus causes eliminations and reductions of plan coverage to contain costs, everyone suffers a loss if abuse is allowed to continue. Add to this the fact that committing health care plan fraud is a criminal offense that can cost perpetrators their job and land them in jail, there is really no long-term gain from engaging in such a fraud.

Concerned about possible fraud in your business? Contact us for an obligation-free initial consultation. Our Toronto private investigators are here help you get to the bottom of things. Talk to us today!

 

Charges stayed after lengthy delays in alleged TTC fraud case

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A provincial judge has stayed the charges against three men accused in a fraud and conspiracy case that shook public confidence in the TTC, after handing down a ruling that slammed the “frustratingly glacial” pace of the prosecution and determined that lengthy delays in the case had violated the trio’s charter right to a speedy trial.

In the judgment delivered in the Ontario Court of Justice at College Park on July 26, Justice John Moore agreed with applications from the defence that argued the time it had taken to get the men to trial was unreasonable.

Moore blamed the drawn-out nature of the proceedings in part on the “disorganization” and “lack of a game plan” in the Crown’s office. He also rebuked the prosecutor initially assigned to the case, describing him as “often unresponsive or inaccessible to the defence.”

The three accused in the case were two former TTC employees, Amadeo Cuschieri, 57, and Maciej Zych, 51, as well as a third man, Dan Doron, 52. All three were arrested on Jun. 11, 2014, after a lengthy TTC investigation.

Three other men, who were either working for the TTC or had retired from the agency at the time, were arrested the same month on related allegations, but charges against them had already been stayed.

The charges against all six stemmed from allegations laid out in a 2014 court document called an information to obtain a search warrant (ITO), in which police alleged that, between 2008 and 2013, TTC employees improperly billed the commission for more than $100,000 in fraudulent purchases that included trigger locks for firearms, decorative front door handles, folding knives and expensive tools for an auto body shop.

Between them, the six men were charged with a range of offences alleged to have taken place between 2008 and 2014 and included fraud, theft, breach of trust, conspiracy and possession of stolen property.

The allegations in the ITO were not tested in court.

In Moore’s ruling, which he made at the end of a two-day hearing that began July 25, the judge noted that when the Crown’s office disclosed its evidence to the defence in May 2015, the disclosure was missing key information like summaries of what several Crown witnesses would testify to. Also missing was evidence relating to the conspiracy charges facing the three men, even though that information had been available to the Crown’s office since the time of the arrests.

It wasn’t until January 2016, 18 months after the arrests, that the Crown’s office provided enough disclosure for both sides to be prepared to set trial dates.

According to the judge, the assistant Crown who was originally assigned to the case, an attorney named Craig Power, “departed the Crown office” in the fall of 2015 for “personal reasons,” and once assistant Crown Scott Patterson stepped in to take the lead “matters proceeded in a more timely fashion.”

Power, who is still listed by the Canadian Law List as an assistant Crown, did not return messages requesting comment this week. The Ministry of the Attorney General refused to comment on his employment status, citing the confidentiality of human resources issues.

At the July hearing, Patterson argued that the delays were reasonable because of the complexity of the case, which he said required linking the “thousands and thousands” of items found during searches of Cuschieri’s and Zych’s homes to documents that allegedly proved they were TTC property.

But Moore dismissed that argument and said that the legal issues involved in the case were “simple and straightforward.”

In his reasons for judgment, Moore cited a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that laid out new deadlines for cases tried in provincial court. The court set a “presumptive ceiling” of 18 months from the time someone is charged to the end of their trial, and ruled that delays longer than that should be presumed to be “unreasonable” and a violation of charter rights unless the Crown can show exceptional circumstances.

The trial for Cuschieri, Doron, and Zych was scheduled to begin in October and finish in January 2017, or 31 months after their arrest, which would have exceeded the ceiling by 13 months.

Asked if the Crown intended to appeal Moore’s decision, Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General, said it would be “inappropriate to comment” because the case was still within the appeal period.

Cuschieri’s lawyer, Aaron Spektor, said his client was “extremely happy and relieved.”

Cuschieri worked as a TTC foreman and manager in the agency’s revenue and security equipment maintenance department, but retired on May 30, 2014. Twelve days later, he was charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000, breach of trust, conspiracy, and possession of stolen property over $5,000 for the purpose of trafficking.

Spektor said that the evidence presented to obtain search warrants almost “never matches” the information that comes out at trial, and that Cuschieri would have pleaded not guilty if the charges hadn’t been stayed. He added that his client “is presumed to be innocent, just like you and I would be, of any charges that are laid against him.”

Zych was working as a TTC repairman at the time of his arrest but resigned soon after, according to the transit agency. He was facing charges of conspiracy and possession of stolen property over $5,000. His lawyer, Paul Genua, said that his client had always maintained his innocence and that, if the case had gone to trial, “I was confident that . . . I was going to win that case.”

Genua emphasized that the judge’s decision to stay the charges wasn’t a technicality, but recognition of the “important right that all citizens have to be tried within a reasonable time.”

Doron, 52, the only one of the three who didn’t work at the TTC, was charged with conspiracy. His attorney, Seth Weinstein, said most of the evidence in the ITO didn’t pertain to Doron and “we were always confident in our defence.”

The ITO that led to the charges was based on information provided to the police by TTC employee Staff. Sgt. Mark Russell, a veteran investigator who led the transit agency’s probe.

According to the document, Russell alleged that, between 2008 and 2014, the accused billed the commission for more than $100,000 in fraudulent purchases, including almost $20,000 for residential door hardware and other material the transit agency had no need for, $16,838 for four tool cabinets and drawers that didn’t appear to be on TTC property, and $1,445 for a cordless drill kit that the TTC didn’t need.

According to the ITO, Cuschieri had signing authority for purchase orders up to $15,000, and between 2007 and February 2014 his department spent more than $65,000 on high-end Snap-On brand tools for auto mechanics. Russell estimated that more than 95 per cent of the purchases couldn’t be considered legitimate.

Russell also alleged that Cuschieri, Doron and Zych intended to set up a company to manufacture turnstiles, and when Cuschieri issued a TTC procurement request for 200 turnstiles worth a collective $4,000,000, he listed the company as a suggested supplier.

At the time of the arrests, allegations that TTC employees had perpetrated a sustained and elaborate fraud against the transit agency rattled TTC leaders. CEO Andy Byford wrote a letter to employees in which he acknowledged the alleged crimes had “harm(ed) our collective reputation and the public’s trust of us in the process.”

According to TTC spokesman Brad Ross, in response to the allegations the commission established a new whistleblower policy to protect employees who report wrongdoing from reprisals. The commission’s code of conduct policy was also updated, about 200 senior managers received ethics training, and the commission put a system in place to detect unusual purchases.

“The decision to stay the charges is outside of the TTC’s control and not a reflection on the investigation or the actions we took as an organization,” Ross said. “The TTC’s reputation as an organization that takes wrongdoing seriously — criminal or otherwise — is extremely important for both employees and the public that funds us to understand.”

Although the arrests prompted changes at the transit agency, by spring of last year the cases against the six accused were falling apart.

Charges against one of the men, Amadeo Cuschieri’s son, were stayed in April 2015. Steven Cuschieri, a 37-year-old who was working as a TTC bus mechanic in 2014, had been accused of possessing stolen tools and tool chests worth over $5,000. In November 2015 the case against Lorenzo Lamanna, 58, a TTC repairman charged with theft and fraud under $5,000, was also stayed.

According to Crawley, the attorney general spokesman, the Crown stayed the charges after it examined the evidence and determined there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction” in either case.

Steven Cuschieri remains employed at the TTC. His lawyer declined the Star’s request for comment, but Ross, the TTC spokesman, said: “In the end, there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.”

On Jul. 22 of this year, the Crown also abandoned the case against John Mulhall, a 67-year-old former TTC worker who had been Amadeo Cuschieri’s supervisor. Mulhall, who was retired at the time of his arrest, was facing charges of theft over $5,000, criminal breach of trust, and fraud over $5,000. The Crown stayed those charges after Mulhall’s attorney filed an application claiming the case had been unreasonably delayed.

Mulhall’s lawyer declined to comment to the Star about the case.

Toronto man who pretended to be lawyer charged with fraud

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Police in Barrie, Ont., say a 31-year-old Toronto man, accused of orchestrating an elaborate ruse to dupe people into believing he was a lawyer, is facing charges.

Investigators allege that over the course of several years the accused created a public image of being an aspiring law student, working towards the goal of becoming a lawyer.

They say he eventually led his alleged victims to believe that he had graduated from law school, written and passed the bar exam in Ontario, and been offered employment by a law firm.

The suspect is alleged to have created forged documents which he disseminated to people in order to support his claims.

Police allege he was successful in defrauding two people of significant amounts of money, which was intended to be used for various purposes related to his career and services as a lawyer.

They say the man is charged with fraud over $5,000, fraud under $5,000, two counts of uttering forged documents and uttering threats.

Mississauga man faces fraud, corruption charges

halton-fraud

Via the Hamilton Spectator By Steve Arnold

A former Halton Region official has been charged with fraud, corruption and taking kickbacks in connection with the handling of more than $100 million in construction projects.

The charges against David Ohashi were announced Wednesday morning by Halton police in a news release.

Police said the charges followed a year-long investigation prompted by an anonymous tip last year. The investigation centred on allegations the veteran manager “gained personal benefit between November 2010 and January 2016 by providing confidential information and advantage to contractors that he had personal relationships with.”

Ohashi, 56, of Mississauga, was fired from his $125,000-a-year position as manager of Plant Capital and Engineering in January after 16 years with the region.

He faces charges of fraud under $5,000, use of a forged document, three counts of municipal corruption and three counts of accepting secret commissions.

“Ohashi’s position within the region also permitted him to approve maintenance and/or construction to the region’s infrastructure that was later deemed not necessary or without justification,” the police news release said. “Ohashi also submitted altered business expense claims to the region for personal travel outside of Canada.”

The police charges are allegations only. Nothing has been proven in court.

Det. Const. Keith Nakahara, of the Halton police fraud bureau, said in an interview that Ohashi’s position gave him control of construction projects for the region’s sewer and water treatment facilities.

“These were complicated projects that allowed someone to misrepresent details about the contracts,” he said. “He had the chance to create a situation where companies he wanted to succeed could win contracts.

Nakahara said the charges levelled Wednesday concern three large projects valued at more than $100 million. He would not specify the projects because the investigation is continuing into some of the companies involved in those contracts.

Nakahara said the investigation was a complicated affair that included obtaining more than 15 judicial authorizations — basically search warrants — to access banking and other institutional records.

Throughout the course of the probe, he added, Halton region officials co-operated at every stage. Officials also conducted an internal probe that led to Ohashi’s firing on Jan. 21.

Police added “the investigation did not uncover any information that would indicate wrongdoing by any other current or former member of the Region of Halton.”

Halton staff, citing ongoing legal proceedings, refused to elaborate on how an alleged fraud could go on for more than five years without being uncovered.

“Because of the legal proceedings, we are unable to comment on specifics. We have fully cooperated with the police investigation and will continue to do so,” regional spokesperson Stacey Hunter said in an email exchange.

“Halton Region has a rigorous code of conduct and a comprehensive corporate fraud policy. We have a robust program of controls in place to prevent or identify inappropriate behaviour including: a strongly adhered to purchasing bylaw, and related policies and procedures and an internal audit group,” she said. “We are confident we have the systems and oversight in place to protect the taxpayer.”

Regional chair Gary Carr, through the communications staff, refused further comment. Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, also a regional councillor, similarly refused comment through his staff.

In a telephone interview, planning and public works committee chair Colin Best said the question of how the alleged frauds went on so long will be covered in a report the committee expects to receive at its Sept. 3 meeting.

Despite the allegations, he said taxpayers can be assured their money is being properly handled.

“That’s why we have our control measures, to ensure that the taxpayer’s interests are protected,” he said.

Ohashi is scheduled to appear in court in Milton on Sept. 13.

Halton police ask that anyone with information relevant to the ongoing investigation call the Regional Fraud Unit at 905-825-4747 ext. 8739. Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477, through haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting Tip201 with a message to 274637.

Private Investigations Business: 5 Myth Vs. Reality

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Being in the private investigation business is very rewarding, but the rewards and bonuses may not be what you think they would be. While it is true that the work is fascinating, intense, and exciting, we are not really like super investigators with their own lab in the car, choppers, and all that jazz that you see in the movies.

Being a private investigator is more for the cerebral kind of folks, those who enjoy getting facts straightened out and getting to the bottom of things so, in that vein, we’ll be dispersing some private investigator myths in this article!

Myth: Private investigators are rolling in dough, that’s why they have cool cars and gadgets.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Real life isn’t like the movies. Most private investigators are either sole proprietorship or work with only a very small team of solo to just less than 5 individuals. Rates may be high at around $50 to $100 an hour for most, but that cash is used to pay for things that are part of the job…not to mention we get taxed like other people and businesses do!

Myth: ‘Real’ private investigators live like James Bond.

Well, James Bond is an international high-order spy plus a fictional character. Real private investigators earn every penny of what they make on ‘thrilling’ surveillance shifts, where the highlight of the whole shift is probably just someone checking their mail box or retrieving the morning paper. Once in a while, you get to wait at courthouses for paperwork and such. What an adrenalin rush, right?

Myth: Private investigators have an unending stream of very loyal clients

No matter how great you are at your job as a private investigator, once you’ve served your purpose, the client will have no more need of you. That’s actually how we know if we did a great job in half of the cases we handle.

There would be no pats on the back, no promotions, no certificates, and accolades, but you know what? You’ll learn that a paid invoice is oftentimes the best acknowledgment you’ll get off of a job well done, even if you went well beyond in terms of service provided.

Myth: The general public is a private investigator’s unending stream of clients.

The truth is, most people think a private investigator can just tap into someone else’s phone, view someone from a satellite feed, ninja-sashay into someone else’s home, and more. All of that can land a private investigator in prison or real trouble!

So you see, the higher hourly rate is totally worth it, just say it’s for your aspirin budget.

Myth: Being a private investigator is a walk in the park.

Besides being a people-person, you will have to be tech savvy, business savvy, and be a self-motivation master to be a private investigator. In this age, you need not only know how to use surveillance gadgets but also know how to set up your internet presence – that means you need to know about SEO strategies, networking, marketing, and more.

We’re not saying being a private investigator sucks, we’re saying it takes a special kind of person to enjoy a career in private investigation. Want to join our ranks of Toronto private investigators? A career in private investigation might be for you! Contact us today!

KPMG Report Says Insurance Sector Needs Drastic Measures to Reinvent Itself

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A new report by KPMG report shared data that could be alarming for some people. The report shared that only half of the global insurers who participated in the poll believe that they can extract and sustain value from business transformation initiatives. Furthermore, 57% of the poll respondents admitted that they have had less than successful in their transformation efforts.

The report was released through Forbes Insights and featured the results of the survey wherein 70 insurance executives from all over the world participated. The poll was conducted by the audit, tax, and advisory services firm KPMG to find out about global insurers’ perceptions of the biggest risks they face, their current capabilities, and their recent transformation initiatives. Of the respondents, 19% are from Asia Pacific, 33% are from the Americas, and about half, 48% are from Europe.

Empowered for the Future?

The KPMG report, with the title, Empowered for the Future: Insurance Reinvented, insurers are struggling to adapt their organizations for the future, although they do know that they urgently need to transform existing practices to be ready for it. A statement by KPMG says that insurers are not placing enough attention on the changing needs and preferences of their clientele and are mostly focused on implications of regulatory policy. The statement also added that less than a fourth of those polled expect that their current operations can be disrupted by changes in customer behavior.

The report’s lead author and KPMG’s global lead partner for insurance innovation and change Mary Trussell notes that very little has changed although insurers have been trying to transform their organizations for tens of years. She added that more fundamental changes need to be done in the insurance business and their operations if they are to truly adapt to the future.

Uphill Battle for Sustainability

Although 53% of the insurers that achieving short-term transformation is doable, the same cannot be said for a sustainable transformational outcome.

KPMG International global head of insurance Gary Reader said that it takes a more strategic approach to truly accomplish an organization’s reinvention and that it is far more complicated than most insurers have done with their past initiatives.

Change and Technology

Another interesting data from the report is that insurers are now seriously viewing new technology as a catalyst for change. 47% are recognizing that apps and mobile platforms are creating new opportunities for transformation and are forcing their business to change. 41% said the same about data and analytics and 45% concurred that the same can be said about social collaboration and networking.

The survey noted that a third of the respondents shared that they were watching non-insurance businesses to help them find inspiration to help reinvent their organizations. Reader further notes that insurers are taking approaches and ideas from other sectors to come up with effective strategies themselves, a move that allows insurers to compete with not just other insurers, but also with other businesses for customer’s attention.

Trussel shares that many insurers may still not be seeing the need to set their sights on the ultimate prize, how to be at the top of their game and not just be able to endure the changes the future is asking for them to make.

How stable is your insurance business? What changes do you need to implement to go with the tide? Will you sail to success or sink to the abyss of adaptation failure? We may be able to help. Contact us today for a consultation!

 

Mississauga man gets nine months for fraud conspiracy

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A Mississauga man has been given nine months in jail for his part in a fake identity scheme in Hamilton, Toronto and Kitchener used to obtain bank credit or loans.

Nashaid Iqbal Bhatti and another man were charged in 2014 by the RCMP with fraud and money-laundering related to creating fake identities used to acquire legitimate pieces of ID and, ultimately, bank loans.

On Wednesday, Bhatti, 45, pleaded guilty in a Hamilton court to conspiring in Toronto to defraud financial institutions of more than $5,000 — and to using a forged citizenship certificate in Kitchener. He was given a nine-month sentence.

His co-accused, Tahir Mahmood, a Toronto cab driver, was sentenced in a Kitchener court on July 13 to 90 days’ intermittent jail time after pleading guilty to a charges including fraud over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The RCMP began investigating in 2013 after a Hamilton airport border officer intercepted what was believed to be a fake citizenship card that came from the United Arab Emirates and was destined for a Hamilton address.

Hamilton RCMP alleged fictitious Hamilton companies were created with local addresses to launder money through them and then either converted to bank drafts or moved overseas.