N.S. auditor probes deeper into expenses
HALIFAX (CP) — Nova Scotia’s auditor general will conduct a forensic investigation into the spending habits of some provincial politicians based on new information that he says raises concerns about possible illegalities.
Jacques Lapointe issued a statement Friday saying he is following up on some of the questionable transactions he flagged in an bombshell audit his office released last week.
The audit, which covered from July 2006 to June 2009, prompted public outrage because it cited numerous examples of inappropriate or excessive spending and the need to clean up vague rules and inadequate oversight.
“The new evidence we had meant that this wasn’t finished,” Lapointe said in an interview. “This is a case of looking at specific events and transactions and seeing whether or not there may be illegalities involved in some of them.”
If the investigation uncovers evidence of potential illegal activity, the findings would be turned over to law enforcement officials who would then determine whether charges should be laid.
Lapointe said the new information he received came from the public and the media, but he declined to elaborate.
While a typical audit focuses on verifying rule compliance and value for money, a forensic audit zeros in on specific transactions, he said.
Lapointe wouldn’t say how many members of the legislature are involved in the probe, but he confirmed it’s more than one.
The original audit, the first of its kind in 15 years, revealed members of the legislature used taxpayers’ money to buy custom-made furniture, renovations, a video game, cameras, big-screen TVs, an espresso maker, laptops and other items the auditor deemed too expensive or inappropriate.
Lapointe said his investigation will likely take a few weeks to complete. He also said he was surprised by the amount of media attention and public debate sparked by his original findings.