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Defending his expenses as head of the Royal Canadian Mint before a Commons committee Wednesday, David Dingwall said he would return any of the expenses found to be inappropriate in an audit due next week.

"Although all of my expenses were thoroughly scrutinized during my tenure, should the independent audit discover any error, I will repay the corporation," he said before the committee.

Mr. Dingwall resigned as head of the Mint last month after a Conservative freedom of information request discovered he had racked up nearly $750,000 in expenses as head of the Crown Corporation last year. Questions were also raised about his prior role as a lobbyist.

"Everything was adhered to in terms of the policies of the Royal Canadian Mint," Mr. Dingwall said defending his position, adding all of his expenses were approved by the Mint's Board of Directors.

However, Mr. Dingwall also came under fire by the Opposition over a severance package that may be awarded to him after he resigned.

"When you quit your job, you don't get severance," said NDP MP Pat Martin. "Severance is for when you are wrongfully let go or have to be let go for unforeseen circumstances."

Several members of the committee tried to nail down whether Mr. Dingwall felt he was entitled to a severance package given his resignation, and whether he had discussed such a package with the Liberal government prior to his resignation.

Mr. Dingwall refused to be pinned down, but said he is owed some "entitlements" in his contract as head of the Mint, and he was in consultation with his lawyers as to whether that included severance.

"I am entitled to my entitlements, and if that includes severance, so be it and I will wait for legal counsel," he said."There was no deal with the prime minister."

Conservative MP Joe Preston brought up comments reported earlier in the day by Mr. Dingwall that his expenses were not taken from the taxpayer, but rather from the Mint itself.

"Who is the shareholder of the mint, sir? The Canadian Taxpayer," Mr. Preston said.

Mr. Dingwall said he disagreed because the Mint, like three or four other Crown Corporations, are "commercial entities."

"These corporations do not get appropriations from the Government of Canada," he said. "We have to live on the income that we generate as a crown corporation."

He also argued that within eight months of his appointment he turned the Crown Corporation into a profitable enterprise, which it remained during his tenure.

"Expenses do have to be seen in the context of the Mint's turnaround, and those facts are all there for all to see," he said.

In 2004, Mr. Dingwall said the Mint's revenue increased by $70-million over the previous year, providing $1-million dividends to its shareholders, including the Canadian government.

Mr. Dingwall said his expenses were justified and were used to build new business relationships and expand into different markets.

Asked why he resigned if he felt his expenses were in order, Mr. Dingwall said it was because of the "firestorm" created by the Opposition.

"(As a CEO) you have a fiduciary obligation to your corporation," he said. "What was created was a firestorm, a firestorm that went across this country. People were outraged that I would spend $750,000 as personal expenses, which was false information, but the firestorm started."

He said he was faced with making a decision of whether to make it an issue for himself or the Mint.

"I resigned as president of the Royal Canadian Mint because I believed it was in the best interest of the Royal Canadian Mint for me to step down," he said.

Mr. Dingwall also refuted some of the specifics that had been reported.

Contrary to what had been reported, he said he did not lease a car.

"I paid for the car myself."

He also referred to an item on the expense list in which he billed $5,300 for a dinner.

"Chairman, the expense of $5,300 has been erroneously reported as one meal for myself and my staff. In fact, this expense was the cost for a two-day business seminar involving 28 people from the Royal Canadian Mint. This event provided valuable discussion and direction for our organization and, indeed, this cost should come under the responsibility of the office of the president."

Conservative MP Bill Pallister asked Mr. Dingwall whether he intended to sue the Canadian government if they refused to pay him severance.

"(The Liberal government) tells us that if you aren't paid severance, that you're going to go after the Canadian people," Mr. Pallister said. "I'm going to ask you, do you have plans to sue the Canadian people if you don't get your severance, sir?"

To which Mr. Dingwall replied: "I think you've now made it quite clear as to why one needs good legal advice."

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