Toronto workers fired after fraud investigation

Toronto workers fired after fraud investigation
Toronto workers fired after fraud investigation

Toronto’s chief accountant is reporting a record number of allegations of fraud and waste as part of her annual audit into misconduct at City Hall, leading to the firing of several city employees and even police prosecutions.

Last year, the Office of the Accountant General received 1,054 complaints through the hotline, representing 1,450 allegations, the highest number since the program began in 2002.

“We cannot afford, literally, to have people ripping off the taxpayers of the city of Toronto and creating waste,” Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow told CTV Toronto. “We need to make sure that every dollar goes to the priorities of the people of this city.”

The allegations of fraud involved municipal employees, residents and companies that did business with the city hall.

In one case, an unnamed builder was accused of building mansions with grand details that were not approved by Toronto’s building department.

One of the homes was more than 6,000 square feet and had a basketball court and underground parking for six vehicles, according to accountant Tara Anderson.

“The builder made material changes to both homes without obtaining proper approvals,” she concluded, indicating that other homes may also not be up to code, “and therefore may be unsafe.”

In another case of fraud, it was found that a municipal official owned a subcontracting company to which municipal contracts were awarded. In at least four cases, this violated the rules on conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, it was discovered that a member of the public had used false identities to claim 31 fraudulent grant payments worth $61,000. The auditor referred that case to Toronto police for prosecution.

Last year, a total of ten municipal officials were punished for fraud and waste. One of them was a municipal official who was fired because he used his sick days to work at another workplace.

Another city employee filed false claims for 33 cases where no service was provided. That employee was also fired and is now banned from working for the city.

The accountant estimates the total loss due to fraud and waste over the past five years at almost $30 million.

“We need every dollar,” audit committee member Paula Fletcher told CTV Toronto. “And we need to say, ‘If you break the rules, we’re going to get you.'”