Government writes off $2.4 million

James McLeod
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Money defrauded from government unlikely to ever be repaid

John Hand. - Telegram file photo

The province’s taxpayers are officially out $2.4 million this week, as the House of Assembly wrote off money that was misspent in the constituency spending scandal.

The money was owed to the government by businessman John Hand, who was convicted of defrauding the government of millions in the constituency spending scandal.Wednesday morning’s meeting of the House of Assembly management commission moved the debt into the “doubtful accounts” category.

“Basically, it’s saying that they don’t expect to recover it,” explained Marlene Lambe, chief financial officer for the House of Assembly.

Between 1998 and 2006, Hand bribed House of Assembly financial officer Bill Murray in exchange for contracts to sell gold rings, lapel pins and other trinkets to the government.

Hand was paid, but didn’t deliver much of the merchandise. He is believed to have bribed Murray with more than $295,000 between 2001 and 2006.

Murray had a $500-a-day gambling habit and was also taking bribes from the MHAs who were eventually convicted, in exchange for allowing them to overspend on their constituency allowances.

When the case was dealt with in court, Hand’s lawyer argued he couldn’t pay restitution because he’s broke.

Wednesday’s management commission meeting also provided an update on the roughly $608,000 that former MHAs owe to the House of Assembly as a result of the spending scandal. That money is slowly being  repaid — the government managed to recover about $60,000 in the past year.

Organizations: House of Assembly.Between 1998 and 2006

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Recent comments

  • Mark
    December 15, 2011 - 20:59

    Mark my words, folks: when the majority of civil service and healthcare workers contracts are up in the spring of 2012, I predict that the powers that be will come across SO poormouthed, it'll be laughable.

  • roger corbett
    December 15, 2011 - 20:00

    put the sobs in jail, throw away the friggin key, make them live on bread and water for the rest of their rotten lives!!!

  • incredible
    December 15, 2011 - 16:53

    Hound the scumbag to his grave then take what is in his will

  • roger butler
    December 15, 2011 - 14:20

    If that was me or another common citizen we would be thrown in jail for this further breach. I believe those forgiving this outrageous debt should also be thrown in jail with Hand.

  • jim
    December 15, 2011 - 14:11

    good point frank m, but these sleasy crooket politicians dont have guts enough to stand before taxpayers and admit wrong.

  • Not Fair
    December 15, 2011 - 13:27

    I'm broke too, but IF it was me who stole huge amounts of taxpayers' money, do you think I'd be "forgiven" or out of jail? This is disgusting, especially with the poverty rate so high in NL. Guess Hand will be having a very Merry Christmas, while most of the rest of us poor ole souls have to keep struggling along.

  • Eli
    December 15, 2011 - 13:07

    In the meantime where's Hand? I take it his lawyer agreed to a hefty prison term in lieu of? Keeping in mind here we're still dealing with a PC administration that still takes care of their own.

  • Max
    December 15, 2011 - 12:40

    If I'm not mistaken, I believe there is a difference between declaring a Debt a Bad Debt (not likely to be collected i.e. Doubtful) and actually writing-off the amount. It was not clear to me what had actually been done. In one part of the Article it says the Government has written-off the amount, while in another it says the House Management Commission, moved the account into the Doubtful Accounts Category. Surely its not necessary to write-off the amount, as Mr. Hand was a very successful Businessperson and would have other assets which could be liquidated and used to pay off the outstanding amount. No stone should be left unturned in attempting to recover the amount this person acquired through criminal activity. There is no reason the Taxpayer should be stuck with this amount.

  • Jeremiah
    December 15, 2011 - 11:43

    If he (Hand) was some poor person who was overpaid 5-6 hundred $ on welfare he would be hounded to the grave to get the money back. So the lesson is: "If you are going to steal, steal big and it will be written off." Does this guy have assets? What and where are they? Maybe some investigation would be in order here.

    December 15, 2011 - 11:15

    Broke my behind. That money is stashed somewhere and when the heat dies down, Mr. Hand will probably be enjoying it in some little sunny part of the world far away from here. This is absolutely ridiculous.

  • Justice
    December 15, 2011 - 10:44

    Go after them the same as any other resident who owes any kinds of taxes or monies to the government.... I don't understand why those people and the people with all the thousands owing in driving fines seem to be able to do it over and over while governments seems to turn a blind eye to those clowns! And I agree, the Telegram should investigate!

  • Harvey
    December 15, 2011 - 10:40

    If I don't pay my provincial income tax this year, will the government write that off as well? Oh, what a tangled web Ms. Dunderdale is weaving for herself.

  • Frank M
    December 15, 2011 - 09:35

    i think it would be worthwhile for the Telegram to undertake a freedom of information request to setermine which of the current or former MHA's have paid off their constituency allowance misappropriations. Not the MHA's convicted of criminal activity, but those identified by the Auditor General as having spent money inappropriately and were required to pay it back. Tom Rideout declined paying his until he retired, Yvonne Jones opted for a monthly repayment scheme among others. Who has paid up and how much public money remains outstanding??

  • Scott Free
    December 15, 2011 - 09:23

    Shameful, utterly shamful; a nice Tory xmas gift. This regime should resign enmasse. And, the thieving MHA's only repaid $.10 on the dollar! please explain to me how I can get in on this deal! Just wondering....assuming the House of Assembly was open, would this issue be debateable??