The RCMP will not launch any further criminal investigations into the remaining Senate expense files, officially closing the book on one of this decade's biggest political scandals without a conviction.
Sources say the Mounties have reviewed 30 cases of current and former senators which were flagged by Auditor General Michael Ferguson in his June, 2015, report and decided none warrant a criminal investigation.
The decision comes after Senator Mike Duffy, the only member of the Senate whose case made it to trial, was exonerated last April on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery relating to his Senate spending. He has since returned to work.
A source close to the RCMP files cited lack of evidence and said it was no longer in the public interest to pursue investigations.
The Mounties also shut down their nearly three-year investigation into Senator Pamela Wallin in May without laying charges, and fraud and breach of trust charges against Senator Patrick Brazeau were withdrawn in July. Both are now back in the Senate.
Mr. Ferguson's comprehensive audit, which spanned two years and flagged nearly $1-million in expenses, named nine current or former senators whose files were referred to the RCMP, as well as 21 with questionable spending. But the Mounties took a look at all 30 of them to determine which investigations, if any, to pursue.
The nine referred to the RCMP were: independent senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu; Senate Liberal Colin Kenny; and retired senators Rose-Marie Losier-Cool; Sharon Carstairs; Marie Charette-Poulin; Bill Rompkey; Donald Oliver; and Gerry St. Germain. Rod Zimmer, whose case was also sent to the Mounties, died in June .
Some senators repaid the money, but 14 took their cases to retired Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie, who was appointed to re-examine the auditor general's findings. In his report released last March, Mr. Binnie slashed the total amount owed by most senators by half – although he still said he was perplexed by the justification for some of the claims that were made. A list on the Senate website, last updated at the end of May, shows seven senators – including the late Mr. Zimmer – still owe a total of more than $528,000.
Mr. Duffy, who returned to the Senate following his trial, was later deemed by the administration to owe almost $17,000 in disputed expenses – including $8 for a personal photo and $10,000 for a personal trainer. He refused to pay and his salary is being clawed back. According to the latest round of quarterly expense reports in August, Mr. Duffy claimed $1,691.59 for living expenses – which he said the Senate has approved.
With a report from The Canadian Press