Halifax firm to conduct forensic examination of development agency

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Province carries out recommendation of ombudsman regarding CRDA

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AMHERST – A Halifax company has been hired to conduct the forensic examination of the Cumberland Regional Development Authority.

Economic and Rural Development Minister Percy Paris confirmed Friday that PricewaterhouseCoopers has been hired to conduct the review for the province.

“Nova Scotians want to know their tax dollars are being managed transparently. The ombudsman found that the Cumberland Regional Development Authority’s financial practices weren’t acceptable,” Paris said in an email to the Amherst Daily News. “Without a more detailed examination, we won’t have a full understanding.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers is an international firm with 5,200 partners and staff in Canada.

The minister said he is looking forward to the results of the examination.

In November, the province issued a call for proposals to complete the investigation of the development authority that came under fire last summer from the ombudsman’s office.

At the time, the minister said he expects the work to be completed this summer.

In August, ombudsman Dwight Bishop reported questionable accounting practices and a lack of oversight at the development authority. He called for a forensic examination with the recommendation the results be turned over to police if the findings are the same as his.

He said in his report that invoices were created and used to obtain funds from the province without direct expenditures. He also said those actions undermined the accountability process and brought into question matters of credibility and integrity.

His review of CRDA stemmed from two former employees who claimed they were dismissed after disclosing concerns to the board about alleged wrongdoings that were taking place.

CRDA executive director Rhonda Kelly was not available for comment on Friday, but she has indicated since the ombudsman’s report that the organization will fully co-operate with the examination while saying it remains proud of its record of achievement.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Cumberland Regional Development Authority, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Amherst Daily News

Geographic location: Halifax, Canada

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