Money defrauded from government unlikely to ever be repaid
John Hand leaves provincial court after pleading guilty to defrauding provincial taxpayers and bribing a government official as part of an illicit scheme targeting the legislature. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
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.