Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Auditor: Financial irregularities in fire commission office

  • Print

Former employees of the Office of the Fire Commissioner received payments to which they were not entitled, using supporting documents that may have been fabricated, Manitoba’s Auditor General, Carol Bellringer, said in a report issued today.

The financial irregularities total $300,000 and cover the period from April 1, 2007 to July 2011, when the Selinger government called on Bellringer to conduct a forensic audit of the OFC.

"Many payments were for personal expenses, amounts were claimed on more than one occasion, and in a number of instances payments were made with no supporting documentation at all..." the auditor general said.

Five former senior officials with the OFC were implicated in the financial irregularities. Bellringer doesn’t name them in her report.

But government sources said in August 2011 they included former fire commissioner Christopher Jones and former deputy fire commissioner Justin Panagapko. The two, and one other OFC employee were fired that July. Another employee reportedly took early retirement.

Bellringer told a news conference at the Legislative Building today her findings suggest the former senior OFC officials "colluded" to circumvent the requirement for a deputy minister to approve the former fire commissioner’s expense claims.

She said in one case a document may have been forged.

"Travel related expenses which we believe were fabricated consisted of meal per diems, private accommodation, private vehicle mileage and incidental expenses, none of which require a receipt," Bellringer said in her report.

"Government vehicles were assigned or available to these staff so it is questionable why they used their own vehicle," she added.

The irregularities were uncovered in 2011 when the provincial comptroller was notified that the former fire commissioner’s American Express card had been cancelled by the company.

Bellringer’s report only goes back to April 1, 2007 because OFC documents prior to that were destroyed.

The financial irregularities predate Jones’s promotion to fire commissioner in late 2009.

Bellringer said there is no evidence to suggest that the irregularities involved anyone outside the OFC, a special operating agency of government.

The Office of the Fire Commissioner enforces fire and building codes, inspects elevators and boilers and investigates fires and trains firefighters and paramedics.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Standup- Morning Fog. Horse prances in field by McPhillips Road, north of Winnipeg. 060605.
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the city grant mosquito buffer zones for medical reasons only?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google