RCMP charge Brazeau, Harb with fraud and breach of trust

APTN National News

Suspended senator Patrick Brazeau has been charged with breach of trust and fraud on allegations he bilked Canadian taxpayers of thousands of dollars in illegal living and travel expense filings.

The RCMP charged the Algonquin senator, along with former liberal senator Mac Harb, now retired.

“These investigations involved careful consideration and examination of evidence. Investigators interviewed dozens of individuals and witnesses,” said RCMP assistant commissioner Gilles Michaud.

Brazeau is alleged to have filed over $40,000 in illegal housing expenses, while Harb’s total is well over $200,000.

Both men claimed their primary residence was more than 100 km from Ottawa, allowing them to claim travel and housing expenses. Harb repaid his expense money and retired after the allegations surfaced.

In Brazeau’s case, he said he was living with his father at the Kitigan Zibi First Nation near Maniwaki, Que., but had to rent a townhouse in Gatineau during the week.

A former girlfriend of Brazeau’s said they rarely went to his father’s house during much of the time period in question according to court documents filed by the RCMP during their “detailed” investigation that began in March 2013.

That same woman alleges Brazeau assaulted her, physically and sexually last February. It was around that time Prime Minister Stephen Harper booted Brazeau from the Conservative caucus.

That case is expected to go to trial Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

An audit also determined Brazeau and Harb filed inappropriate expense claims.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

APTN could not reach Brazeau for comment.

Michaud said thousands of documents, including financial statements, bank records and expense claims dating back to 2003, were analyzed.

Both are expected to appear in court at a later date the RCMP said.

The RCMP didn’t mention their investigation into former Conservative senators Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy but did say: “All cases are unique and the time it takes to complete them is based on many factors. We are continuing our work on other significant files.”

NDP ethics critic MP Charlie Angus called the charges a “sobering” day for politics in Canada and raises questions of the “political” judgement of Harper who appointed Brazeau, and Liberal leader MP Justin Trudeau who once said Harb made an honest mistake.

“I think Canadians are fed up and Canadians want action,” said Angus who says the Senate needs to be abolished.

Canada’s auditor general is currently reviewing the expenses filed by all senators.

“Are there more that will be caught up in this net?” said Angus.