Canadian senator who was ally of PM charged with bribery

Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:35pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police laid a raft of criminal charges on Thursday against a member of the country's Senate who was once a close political ally of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The 31 charges against Senator Mike Duffy are the latest development in a long-running scandal that has hurt support for Harper's right-leaning Conservative government ahead of an election scheduled for October 2015.

Harper, who took power in 2006 promising to increase accountability, came under attack from opposition parties last year after it emerged that his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, had secretly paid Duffy a check for C$90,000 ($83,330) to cover expenses.

The Senate, the appointed upper house of Canada's parliament, later found that Duffy had claimed the expenses improperly.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said Duffy is suspected of corruptly obtaining, or trying to obtain, the C$90,000 from Wright.

"Mr. Duffy has been charged with one count each of bribery of a judicial officer, frauds on the government and breach of trust," Michaud told reporters. "Today's charges are the result of a careful examination of the facts."

The majority of the Mounties' charges against Duffy relate to living and travel expenses that he allegedly claimed even though he was not entitled to do so.

Harper has always insisted he knew nothing about the check and would not have approved it.   Continued...

Senator Mike Duffy arrives at the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie