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NCC CEO Mark Kristmanson is pictured at the National Capital Commission headquaters in Ottawa on Jan 12, 2016.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The federal ethics watchdog says the head of an agency overseeing important federal sites in and around Ottawa violated conflict-of-interest rules a dozen times.

Mario Dion’s report, issued Wednesday, says Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the National Capital Commission, ran afoul of ethics standards when he accepted invitations to events from organizations with official business ties to the commission.

The organizations that had Kristmanson and his wife to events include the National Arts Centre, the Canadian Museum of Nature, Via Rail and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Kristmanson was “personally involved” in decisions about construction projects at the arts centre and nature museum, the approval of Via Rail’s design for Ottawa’s train station, as well as the society’s lease of a prized federal property at 50 Sussex Dr., on the Ottawa River.

Dion says there was no evidence to suggest Kristmanson was asked to perform an official function at any of the events, which would have made the invitations exempt from ethics rules.

In his report, Dion says the examination started more than a year ago, when his office received an anonymous letter. A review dating back to Kristmanson’s appointment in 2014 found multiple events that he should have publicly disclosed, including one where tickets were valued at $200.

Kristmanson was fined this past August for failing to publicly declare events where he was invited to present, or act in his capacity as CEO of the National Capital Commission.

He argued he was following the practice of past CEOs and expectations from his board. He said his attendance at events “reflected the expectation that the NCC’s CEO should act as a community leader assuming a visible public role at events and ceremonial occasions in the national capital,” Dion’s report says.

Kristmanson also questioned whether accepting an invite from another Crown corporation could be problematic because all reported to the government.

Dion rejected the argument.

“I see no distinction that can be drawn on the basis of the corporate status of the donor and see no reason to treat donors from federal public sector entities differently than private sector counterparts,” his report says.

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