OPP investigate BLR “Gravel-gate”

The OPP investigation of potential procurement fraud arising from gravel purchases by Brudenell Lyndoch and Raglan Township (BLR) continues with investigators conducting interviews with at least one member of the BLR Council. Bill Dickson, A/Manager of Media Relations for the OPP, in a response to questions from The Current confirmed that a complaint was received but said that it is the policy of the OPP not to comment on ongoing investigations. However, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation, the OPP is treating the issue as a criminal investigation and the scope of the investigation has grown wider. 

This investigation, referred to locally as “Gravel-gate,” is the result of a complaint to the OPP by a BLR resident in October 2020 (Click HERE to read) related to the circumstances surrounding the sole-source purchase of $75,000 in aggregates by BLR township in 2020. According to the complaint, the transaction “was consistent with accepted indicators of procurement fraud within government organizations.” 

In November 2020, the auditors of the Township, MacKillican & Associates, in a letter to the Council stated that there were “significant” deficiencies in their financial controls and also that it had been brought to their attention that the Procurement Bylaw governing township purchasing had not been followed. 

“I think investigations like these indicate that we have some serious problems with how BLR is conducting business,” said former member of BLR Council Rick Clements, who is also a Chartered Professional Accountant. “This was not a ‘mistake.’ This was a deliberate bypass of all bylaws, policies and procedures at multiple levels. When multiple step/safeguards are bypassed: tender requests, tender review and approval, mandatory quotes, purchase orders, receiving reports, proper invoices, cheques requiring documentation all requiring multiple levels of creation, review and approval within the township — not once, but multiple times. WHY? I can only conclude gross negligence, or fraud.”    

“The 2020 Financial Statements are due out soon and the 2021 budget should provide some insight into that aspect. I am also very concerned about the cost to BLR taxpayers this behaviour is having. Taxpayers deserve better; taxpayers deserve explanations!” 

The Current reached out to Mayor Keller for comment but none has yet been received.

photo ontarionature.org

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