Not a writeoff

James Mcleod & Andrew Robinson
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Finance minister disputes media coverage of spending scandal debt

The house management commission has recommended the $2.4-million debt resulting from fraud by businessman John Hand should be moved into the “doubtful accounts” category. That’s not the same as a writeoff, Finance Minister Tom Marshall says. — File photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Finance Minister Tom Marshall is disputing media coverage that stated the provincial government is writing off $2.4 million it is owed in relation to the constituency spending scandal.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the minister said before any such amount can be written off, it requires Treasury Board approval, as stated in Section 18 of the Financial Administration Act.

“No such request for approval has been made nor have there been any writeoffs related to this issue.”

The money is owed to government by businessman John Hand, who was convicted earlier this year of defrauding government.

From 1998 to 2006, Hand bribed former House of Assembly financial officer Bill Murray in exchange for contracts to sell gold rings, lapel pins, and other items to government. Many items were never delivered to government.

In a meeting held Wednesday morning, the House of Assembly Management Commission moved the $2.4-million debt into the “doubtful accounts” category.

Marshall added the provincial government has a judgement registered with the courts against Hand and is continuing to pursue all legal avenues it can avail of in order to recoup the money owed to government.

He said moving the debt into doubtful accounts is a proper accounting practice required for any amounts owing to the province which have a risk of not being collected.

“Information put before the Management Commission of the House of Assembly on Dec. 14 was for the purposes of recognizing the allowance for doubtful accounts as per generally accepted accounting principles,” said Marshall.

Hand was sentenced to three years in jail on Jan. 7, 2011 and ordered to pay the government back $450,000.

At the time of sentencing, defence lawyer Bob Simmonds said Hand had approximately $60,000 in assets.

Meanwhile, the House of Assembly Management Commission has finally closed the file on money double billed by former MHAs.

The double billings by MHAs came to light in the wake of the constituency spending scandal.

The scandal sent six men to jail for defrauding the government — including four MHAs, Hand, and Murray — but it also involved money misspent by dozens of other elected members.

The House of Assembly has been slowly working to recover that money. As of 2010, the money owed from double billings was down to $76,708. On Wednesday, the commission reported that it has recovered all that money, and the balance is now down to zero.

Organizations: Assembly Management Commission, Treasury Board, Financial Administration Management Commission of the House of Assembly

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Recent comments

  • David
    December 16, 2011 - 12:56

    Thank you dfor the clarification. Mr. Marshall. It's not written off...than kgoodness! So the cheque is in the mail then, is it?

  • k
    December 16, 2011 - 10:28

    If john hand has a wife siblings etc. I as the government would check on all their acumulated monies properties etc. in that period pf time. Not saying any wrong done. But wondering.

    • TR
      December 16, 2011 - 12:38

      Agreed, but sadly these guys are pretty good at hiding stuff. The will say they gambled it away but the wife/kids have a big cabin, new car, condo in FL, all in their name.

  • AS
    December 16, 2011 - 10:14

    Im with you DARLS! Sick!!

  • TR
    December 16, 2011 - 09:21

    Marshall is right. It hasn't been written off yet but doubtful is the first step to writeoff. If Hand can't pay and has nothing to go after, why leave the receivable on the books for years? Sadly govt got some of the money back through VLTs and liquor tax.

  • Ordinary Taxpayer
    December 16, 2011 - 09:02

    ME, You must be related to one of these crooked politicians. I know a construction worker in his sixties and because you get paid only as each stage of the house is completed, he fell short of his tax payments a couple of times, and even though he is paying so much per month towards the arrears, he is still being hounded to death, with interest added on, and even audited. He is a hard working taxpayer for over forty-five years and should be retired by now. Does he have the luxury of having his ten or eleven thousand dollars being written off ? Not likely !

  • Scott Free
    December 16, 2011 - 08:58

    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, is the honourable governement member confident enough that this money will be repaid, to put his career on the line? Minister Marshall, will you resign if the money is not repaid? will you make that commitment? bet you won't now will you sir? Sad that questions like these have to be asked in a public comments forum rather than in the House...democracy is dead with the Dunderdale Dictatorship, a direct decendant of the Danny Damage Era.

  • Harvey
    December 16, 2011 - 08:28

    This government must be losing every scrap of accountability that it might have had. They're beginning to look as crooked as Hand. Come on, Mr. Marshall, there's an electorate out there that is not stupid.

    • Bob
      December 16, 2011 - 12:33

      HARVEY..You are you implying the people in his district aren't stupid. That fools me. Marshall should have been given given the boot last time around.

  • jim
    December 16, 2011 - 08:24

    business people +campaign donations 2 politicians= kickbacks?

  • me
    December 16, 2011 - 08:01

    3 comments so far and you are all attacking the government for what? Even if they eventually have to write off this money what else are they supposed to do? You can't get money from someone who doesn't have it and most of these guys have spent time in jail. I actually think that the government has recovered all the money that was double billed by guys like Rideout

  • Fuming Mad
    December 16, 2011 - 07:44

    Finance Minister Marshall, You must think that taxpayers are just plain stupid and gullible and ignorant. It's bad enough that we were stolen big time from those whose huge salaries we pay, but to keep defending and making up excuses for these crooks and thieves is an insult to us.

  • SR
    December 16, 2011 - 07:37

    This means Rideout paid what he owed??? Really??? Are you sure??? Unbelievable!!!

  • darls
    December 16, 2011 - 06:51

    seriously....write off millions and come after me a miminum wage worker for 1000 dollars....go figure.....