The RCMP has expanded its investigation into Senator Mike Duffy’s expense claims with a new request for copies of his personal banking records and credit card statements, court documents show.
Mr. Duffy is under investigation for alleged breaches of trust related to housing and travel expense claims he filed to the Senate. The Prince Edward Island senator left the Conservative caucus earlier this year after it was revealed that he accepted money from the Prime Minister’s then-chief of staff, Nigel Wright, to repay some of his claims.
The most recent RCMP documents, filed in an Ottawa court on Thursday, reveal that Mr. Duffy changed his Ontario banking address to one in PEI in December of 2012, just four days after the Senate’s internal economy committee said it would conduct an audit of members’ residency claims.
Mr. Duffy had claimed that his cottage in Cavendish, PEI, was his primary residence, which entitled him to collect a housing allowance to help cover the cost of maintaining a secondary residence in Ottawa. Previous court filings have revealed that Mr. Duffy also tried to obtain a PEI health card after learning about the audit.
RCMP Corporal Greg Horton wrote in the court documents that investigators have found three credit cards and one bank account that relate to Mr. Duffy’s Senate expenses.
The Senate provided Mr. Duffy with an American Express card, but he also used personal credit cards while travelling, the documents say. Mr. Duffy used three credit cards – with CIBC and the Royal Bank of Canada – to pay for expenses that he later submitted to the Senate for reimbursement, according to the court documents.
Cpl. Horton wrote in the court filing that he already has information from the Senate indicating what expenses were paid to Mr. Duffy but requires proof that the money was also received “to demonstrate a completed offence.”
In addition, some of Mr. Duffy’s expense claims that were submitted to the Senate are difficult to track because they are often handwritten and contain amendments and corrections, the court documents say.
The three credit cards contain more than 50 transactions related to Mr. Duffy’s Senate travel expenses and 28 related to travel that occurred during the 2011 federal election campaign, the documents say. Media reports have suggested that Mr. Duffy may have double-dipped during that campaign by charging expenses to both the Senate and individual campaigns.
The RCMP has seconded a specialist in fraud investigations and forensic accounting from the federal Public Works department to lead a forensic audit of Mr. Duffy’s expense claims and expenditures, the documents show.
Mr. Duffy’s bank account with RBC includes deposits from both the Senate and the Government of Canada, according to the documents. Cpl. Horton said investigators have identified other bank accounts relating to Mr. Duffy but do not believe they are relevant to the current investigation.
Cpl. Horton said he is seeking Mr. Duffy’s 2010 joint mortgage application, which he made with his wife, because it “contains evidence of the location of Duffy’s primary residence.” He is also looking for all changes of address related to any of Mr. Duffy’s joint and personal accounts since his appointment to the Senate, according to the court filing.
While not the focus of the most recent RCMP court filing, the documents indicate that the Mounties are still looking into the money that was paid to Mr. Duffy and note that investigators are reviewing hundreds of pages of documents provided by Mr. Wright.
Mr. Duffy is one of three senators the RCMP has named in its investigation of allegedly improper expense claims. Mac Harb, a former Liberal, and Patrick Brazeau, a former Conservative, are also having their expense claims investigated.