RCMP probe bribery allegations in PMO

Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

, Last Updated: 6:26 PM ET

OTTAWA — The RCMP investigation into the Senate spending scandal busted wide open Wednesday with bribery allegations against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff and Sen. Mike Duffy.

The explosive revelations contained in court documents provide a clearer picture of Nigel Wright's decision to give $90,000 to Duffy to repay expenses and the negotiations to go easy on him.

Cpl. Greg Horton said there is no evidence that Harper was aware of the payment beforehand.

"I am not aware of any evidence that the prime minister was involved in the repayment or reimbursement of money to Sen. Duffy or his lawyer."

He also said Wright believed Duffy was "morally and ethically" wrong to bill taxpayers and only intervened when Duffy could not find the money and a Conservative Party offer to help was withdrawn when the bill tripled.

"It was his job to mitigate political issues that posed problems for the prime minister," Horton said.

Horton said Duffy thought he broke no rules and shouldn't have to repay a cent, but finally agreed to as long as a number of conditions were met, including halting an outside audit into his expenses, which did not happen.

Police said they have so far scoured 260,000 e-mail items of possible relevance and whittled those down to 2,600 and have interviewed about a dozen people so far — mostly PMO staffers at the time and Tory senators. Other documents are being sought.

The e-mails give the most detailed account of what led to Duffy accepting Wright's offer and the roles key senators played in cahoots with the PMO to cover for Duffy.

One e-mail dated May 14 suggested Harper was told of the Conservative Party's offer to pay Duffy's legal bill of $13,200, but police said there were no corroborating documents.

None of the e-mails implicate Harper directly, although in one exchange dated May 14 from Wright to Carl Vallee, Harper's press secretary, reads: "The PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy when I was getting him to agree to repay the expenses."

Horton said all the evidence only "suggests that the prime minister was informed by his staff that they were working on a plan to have Sen. Duffy repay expenses."

Investigators also said key senators implicated in the scandal gave inconsistent answers during the course of their investigation.

Mark.Dunn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter:MarkDunnSun

Court documents documents allege Nigel Wright broke the law by Mark Daniell

 

 

 

 

 

 


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