Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Outside Audit into Wayward Senate Expenses Cost Taxpayers Almost $530,000

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Outside Audit into Wayward Senate Expenses Cost Taxpayers Almost $530,000

Article excerpt

Outside Senate audit cost nearly $530,000


OTTAWA - The effort to hold Canada's allegedly free-spending senators to account has a new price tag -- and it's a whopper.

The independent audit of Sen. Pamela Wallin's expenses has cost taxpayers $390,058, nearly three times the amount of ineligible expenses she was required to pay back, Senate officials disclosed Friday.

It's also more than twice the total cost the auditing firm in question, Deloitte, billed for its review of expense claims filed by senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and now-retired Liberal Mac Harb.

The audit into their living allowances and expenses cost $138,784.

"We know this is a significant cost," said a statement from Sen. Gerald Comeau, the Conservative chairman of the Senate's board of internal economy, which oversees contracts and spending.

"However, once the audit was ordered, we had to allow it to be fully concluded in order to get a fair and consistent reading of the issues involved."

The audit costs were released on the same day RCMP filed court documents alleging Wallin committed fraud, and asked the Senate for more details, including copies of her electronic calendar.

Wallin has paid back more than $138,000 in expenses declared ineligible. Some $90,000 involving Duffy was paid by the prime minister's former chief of staff. Harb gave back $231,649, covering eight years, and Brazeau is having his $48,744 expenses tab taken out of his paycheque.

The audit bills represent the latest revelations in the Senate spending scandal, which has gripped Ottawa for months and comes with the upper chamber nearing a vote next week on a motion to suspend Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau without pay.

In Wallin's case, the cost soared after the Senate asked auditors to expand their probe of her expenses -- primarily travel costs -- to include her entire time in the upper chamber, which was not done in the other three cases.

It is a point Wallin has made repeatedly, saying that her tab was inflated because new rules governing claims were imposed on her retroactively.

Liberal Sen. George Furey, the former deputy chair of the committee, also said it was necessary to get an independent assessment. …

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