Canada senator, ex-senator charged with fraud on expenses

Tue Feb 4, 2014 2:24pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police laid fraud charges against a senator and a former senator on Tuesday following an expenses scandal that has rocked the country's unelected Senate and tainted the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The fraud and breach-of-trust charges were laid by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police against Mac Harb, a Liberal appointee who resigned from the Senate in August, and Patrick Brazeau, who was expelled from the Conservative caucus last year and then suspended from the Senate because of what were deemed to be inappropriate expense claims.

The charges have not been proven in court.

"These investigations were detailed and involved the careful consideration and examination of evidence," Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of the Mounties' national division, said in a nationally televised statement.

"Our investigators interviewed dozens of individuals and witnesses. As is typical with any investigation, we also reviewed and analyzed thousands of documents, including financial statements, bank records and expense claims which dated back to 2003," he said.

The controversy stems from housing and living expenses the two men claimed. Harb and Brazeau have both said that they followed Senate rules in claiming expenses and that the rules were changed and unfairly applied retroactively.

Harb's lawyer Sean May said his client looked forward to being in court to be able to answer the charges, which he denies.

"He is prepared to respond and to respond vigorously to the accusations," May said.   Continued...

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud delivers a statement in Ottawa February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie