Feds sue over missing millions meant for First Nation
Firm allegedly diverted funding for health care
The federal government is suing an Ontario company over allegations it diverted and misappropriated millions in health-care funding intended for one of Canada’s most impoverished First Nations.
The lawsuit also reveals that Health Canada repeatedly renewed its contract with the company even while it was the subject of an investigation by both the government and RCMP over concerns it was fraudulently managing funds intended for the Kashechewan First Nation.
In September 2016 the RCMP charged one of two brothers named in the suit, Giuseppe Crupi (who goes by Joe), for fraudulently obtaining and misappropriating $1.2 million meant to feed 400 elementary school children in Kashechewan. He faces eight counts related to fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime.
But a lawsuit filed Oct. 2 by Health Canada against Crupi and his brother Franco contains a new allegation involving a further $1.4 million in Health Canada funds, including undocumented payments to companies run by the brothers and “Christmas bonuses” paid out of money designated for Kashechewan health projects.
The allegations centre on a Thunder Bay, Ont., company called the Crupi Consulting Group. Franco Crupi is still the company’s president, while Joe Crupi was the treasurer until about 2014.
The suit names both brothers plus four companies they’re alleged to have been directing.
In an interview, Franco Crupi — who has not been criminally charged — told the National Post he will be fully defending himself.
OTTAWA • Amanda Lindhout’s mother says one of her daughter’s alleged Somalian abductors feared “he was being set up” for a doublecross as arrangements for a ransom payment were being finalized.
Lorinda Stewart told an Ontario court Thursday that talks with Ali Omar Ader in early November 2009 did not go well because Ader suddenly became “angry and afraid.”
Lindhout was a freelance journalist from Red Deer, Alta., when she and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were grabbed near Mogadishu in August 2008. Both were released in November 2009.
Ader, 40, has pleaded not guilty in Ontario Superior Court to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role. He was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa in June 2015. It emerged during pretrial motions last spring that the Mounties had lured Ader to Canada through an elaborate scheme to sign a purported book-publishing deal.
The Crown says Ader admitted to undercover investigators on two occasions that he was the negotiator in the kidnapping and that he was paid $10,000 for his services.
Stewart testified that she flew to Nairobi, Kenya, to help arrange for the release of her daughter and Brennan after many months of distressing long-distance calls.
At one point, the captors were demanding US$2.5 million, but the families assembled less than US$700,000 after months of desperately trying to raise funds.
The plan was to electronically transfer the ransom funds from Sydney, Australia, to Mogadishu through a money-transfer service. An initial attempt to pay the ransom did not work out, but a second effort succeeded.
Trevor Brown, an Ottawabased lawyer for Ader, painted Stewart’s series of conversations as something of a confusing web due to Ader’s heavy accent and limited English and the difficulty of hearing properly on overseas phone links. He suggested it was impossible to know what role Ader was playing.
Stewart acknowledged receiving a follow-up phone message from Ader in January 2010, as well as later contact through Facebook.
Ader said he wanted to help Lindhout, and claimed he was “playing two sides” in the negotiations in order to save her, Brown told the court. Stewart said she didn’t necessarily believe Ader. “I didn’t trust him.”
Ali Omar Ader