Thursday, March 16, 2006

Let's get this party started...

It's only the beginning, but...
TORONTO (CP) - Former privacy commissioner George Radwanski, who resigned amid an expense-abuse scandal in 2003, has been charged with fraud and breach of trust after a 26-month RCMP investigation.
Radwanski's lawyer Eddie Greenspan said the charges, one count on each offence, were laid by the RCMP late Tuesday in connection with a $15,000 travel advance issued to the former privacy commissioner.
He said the charges would give Radwanski an opportunity to clear his name more than two years after it was made public that he was the subject of a criminal investigation.
"The allegations were known way back over two years ago by the auditor general," said Greenspan. "We don't know why it took so long to charge him, but we're pleased at least that we now have the opportunity to clear his name."
Greenspan said Radwanski has been living under a cloud of suspicion and would "vigorously defend" himself against the criminal charges.
"It's a very difficult thing to try and obtain employment during a period of time when the entire country knows you're under investigation, and it's been very difficult for Mr. Radwanski," he said.
The RCMP also announced Wednesday that Radwanski's former chief of staff, Arthur Lamarche, was charged with the same offences.
The Mounties said they investigated Radwanski and his staff after the auditor general referred the matter to police following her 2003 annual report.
Greenspan said the lengthy investigation apparently turned up nothing that wasn't known in 2003, when auditor general Sheila Fraser discovered more than $500,000 in improper cash advances, travel and hospitality expenses in the privacy commissioner's office.
He suggested police may have been under political pressure to charge Radwanski, a former Liberal appointee who was forced to resign after the auditor general's damning report.
"I would hate to think that politics have a great role to play in investigations and charges, but I've been around long enough to know they do," said Greenspan.
When he quit in 2003, Radwanski accused members of Parliament of taking revenge for his aggressive approach to the job after a vote of non-confidence in the Commons and a staff revolt in his office over his lavish expenses.
Despite the auditor general's 2003 findings, Radwanski denied raiding the public purse to enjoy sumptuous lunches and costly trips at taxpayers' expense.
Radwanski eventually had his $82,562 severance package reduced to zero as a penalty as the government moved to try and recover some of the money it said was wrongly spent.
Both Radwanski and Lamarche are scheduled to appear in provincial court in Ottawa on April 20.
They each face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison on the fraud charge and five years on the breach of trust charge.

Mr. Greenspan, you're no dummy. You know perfectly well why charges weren't laid before this. Your client was on the "right" side then; now he's not. As you said, "I would hate to think that politics have a great role to play in investigations and charges, but I've been around long enough to know they do."
They helped your client stay out of the dock for two years, you blithering idiot.
Now go earn some of the money he's paid you.