Investigating a $122Gs fraud cost Alta. millions: AG report

Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY)

Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:45 PM ET

EDMONTON — Alberta spent millions to investigate after sloppy bookkeeping at the Office of the Public Trustee allowed a government officer to allegedly divert $122,000 of a dead person’s funds in the care of the province.

In his annual report, Auditor General Merwan Saher revealed Tuesday a senior trust officer allegedly got a fake government ID card and bank account 15 years ago, and deposited $122,000 from the estate of a dead person.

The alleged fraud was revealed in 2010, he said.

“We commenced our work in January 2011, immediately after management informed us of the alleged misappropriation of funds. Our work took 19,500 hours over 22 months at a cost of $2.4 million to complete,” he said in a report released Tuesday.

Saher’s report found other big problems at the trustee office, created to protect the financial interests of vulnerable Albertans by administering estates of represented adults, deceased persons and minors when there is no one else to act, including:

• Half a billion dollars administered every year in the province’s trust for adults, minors, vulnerable, and deceased Albertans are at risk from sloppy bookkeeping

• One file wasn’t reviewed for 45 years

• Policies and procedures inadequate to manage risks

• Significant non-compliance with policies across all program areas

• Inadequate supervisory review of files administered by trust officers

• Excessive trust and reliance in trust officers, who have a great deal of autonomy and exercise broad discretion when administering the assets of vulnerable Albertans

• Management didn’t appreciates seriousness of non-compliance

“We take our responsibility for safeguarding money for vulnerable Albertans very seriously,” Frank Oberle, associate minister of services for persons with disabilities, said. “The Office of the Public Trustee has accepted accountability for this situation and has taken immediate action to address all of the issues outlined in the auditor’s report.”


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