The RCMP announced that former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy, who was suspended from the Senate, has been charged with 31 fraud and corruption- related offences.
The announcement was made in Ottawa this morning by Gillies Marchaud, an assistant commissioner with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. What began as an investigation into Duffy's claim that a cottage in Prince Edward Island was his principal residence, expanded into three other areas of alleged illegal activity.
Regarding the allegation that Duffy claimed the PEI residence as his principal home when he did not live there, he faces one charge of fraud over $5,000 and one count of breach of trust. The total of this fraud is estimated to be $90,000.
It is also alleged Duffy committed fraud when he claimed expenses he incurred while not on Senate business. The RCMP estimates this fraud to be over $50,000. With respect to these alleged activities, the former journalist faces four counts of fraud over $5,000, five counts of fraud under $5,000 and nine charges of breach of trust.
A third area that gave rise to the charges consists of allegations the senator fraudulently awarded consulting contracts. It is alleged that over a four-year period Duffy used part of the funds for these contracts for personal gain. For this, Duffy has been charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, two counts of fraud under $5,000, and four counts of breach of trust.
The final set of charges arises from the payment to Duffy of $90,000 by Nigel Wright, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The $90,000 was to be used by Duffy to repay the $90,000 it was alleged he wrongly claimed for expenses for his secondary residence in the capital while it was in fact his primary residence. In regards to this area, Duffy has been charged with bribery of a judicial officer, frauds on the government, and breach of trust.
The RCMP earlier announced Wright will not be charged regarding his involvement in the matter.
Having been given advanced notice that charges were forthcoming, Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, issued a statement yesterday. Bayne said his client has not had a fair hearing in the media or the Senate and Duffy looks forward to having a fair hearing in an impartial forum.
Bayne says his client, who suffers from health problems and has had open-heart surgery recently, is glad the investigation is over and both he and Duffy are confident he will not be found guilty of any criminal wrongdoing.
Duffy claims he never asked Wright for the $90,000 and the scheme was concocted by the Prime Minister's Office.
This was not a good week for Duffy. Two days ago, Maclean's magazine published an article about a 32-year-old Peruvian woman, Karen Duffy, who claims she is Duffy's daughter. She alleges Duffy had an affair with her mother when the mother lived in an Ottawa halfway house after being released from the Kingston Prison for Women. The mother had been convicted importing drugs into Canada and was later deported back to Peru. Duffy denied the woman's allegations.
Duffy is scheduled to appear in an Ottawa courtroom on Sept. 16.