NDP wants Wynne to 'come clean' on kickback scheme

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

Shawn Jeffords, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

TORONTO -- The NDP want Kathleen Wynne to spill the names of any Liberal cabinet ministers mentioned during a police investigation of a cleaning kickback scheme.

The elaborate fraud, investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police in 2010, showed that a cleaner overbilled on government contracts, bilking taxpayers out of thousands.

Three government workers -- Michael DePace, Gino Conicella and Katherina Pagliaroli -- pleaded guilty to breach of trust and accepting a secret commission. Private contractor Ivanna Presot, a property manager, pleaded guilty to fraud under $5,000.

During the court case, cleaner turned police informant Bruno Perciasepe also testified under oath in court that he had provided free cleaning services for more than 170 public officials, including cabinet ministers, between 2004 and 2009, years the Liberals were in power.

The contractor cleaned boats, cars and homes and overbilled on government work to make up for the losses he took for the freebies, he testified in court.

These allegations were not further tested in court and did not result in any charges.

Although some politicians are entitled to free cleaning, Perciasepe claimed no invoices or cash were exchanged during the alleged "free" work he did for ministers and government staff.

There was never any suggestion the politicians or others on the list Perciasepe provided to the OPP had any knowledge of the kickback scheme -- which came to light after an internal government audit raised red flags and the OPP were alerted.

The OPP confirmed all 172 names on the alleged "free" perks list had been reviewed, but no charges were laid against any of them.

“All of the names on the list were reviewed and I can say (civil servants’ names) were passed on to their respective ministries. There was no wrongdoing, no fraud, no (criminal) breach,” OPP Sgt. Carolle Dionne said.

“There was not enough evidence to support the laying of criminal charges against the cabinet ministers or the others on the list.”

Police said the civil servants' names were passed on to their various ministries for their own investigations and for consideration as to whether any possible disciplinary action was required -- something the government denies.

"We'd like (Wynne) to come clean," NDP MPP Taras Natyshak said Sunday. "We'd like her to let us know who was involved in this alleged kickback scheme, how it went down and what her actions were upon learning about it?"

The NDP launched a website about the fraud Sunday, www.libmaid.ca.

It features a picture of Wynne with her arms raised triumphantly and asks which cabinet ministers got free maid services. It also lists a toll-free number voters can call to learn more about the case, 1-844-LIB-MAID.

"We really need (Wynne) to come clean on who was implicated and do they currently sit or are they currently running for office once again during this provincial election," Natyshak said.

Despite Liberal promises of government transparency, taxpayers were never told about the four convictions in the case. The details were brought to light during a special report by QMI Agency reporter Sam Pazzano.

The Liberal Party fired back Sunday in a statement released to media. Rebecca MacKenzie, party director of media relations, said the NDP was in "panic mode," eager to distract from infighting within party ranks.

"The NDP asked only one question on the matter in question period last month, but got no traction because the allegations are baseless," the statement said.

shawn.jeffords@sunmedia.ca


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