Federal consultant charged with fraud amid RCMP probe

Over an 18-month period, a federal consultant ‘submitted fraudulent timesheets’ for separate, undisclosed contracts. It resulted in an estimated overbilling of $250,000.

Federal consultant charged with fraud amid RCMP probe
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The RCMP has charged a federal consultant with fraud on allegations of overbilling the Trudeau government.

Clara Elaine Visser, 63, is charged with fraud over $5,000. Visser has been ordered to appear before the Ottawa Courthouse on September 6.

Over an 18-month period, the consultant “submitted fraudulent timesheets that resulted in overbilling by an estimated $250,000 between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021,” according to the RCMP.

Visser, who worked with eight federal departments and Crown Corporations, has been subject to intensive scrutiny since 2021.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) referred the case to the RCMP that summer. The Federal Policing's Sensitive and International Investigations Unit (SII) launched an investigation.

“The RCMP SII opened an investigation after it was determined that the consultant may have been overbilling,” the RCMP said in a statement.

The federal police service reiterated the allegations after obtaining statements from contractors and examining timesheets for separate contracts.

“This investigation is a great example of collaboration between the RCMP and PSPC,” Supt. Jeremie Landry said in a statement.

“It demonstrates that we are committed to keeping our nation safe, by protecting the integrity of the federal government and preventing the abuse of taxpayers' dollars,” he said.

The revelations resulted in outcry from Conservative MPs, who continue to hold federal departments accountable for shady contracting practices.

“Trudeau's flawed contracting system allowed a scammer to steal $250,000 from taxpayers,” said Conservative MP Larry Brock Wednesday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent $20 billion on consultants last year.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Brock said. “How much did fraudsters steal from Canadians under this Liberal government?”

A PSPC spokesperson for Public Services did not specify what contracts were under investigation, or which departments were involved.

“Protecting taxpayer money is crucial to ensure responsible and transparent governance,” Guillaume Bertrand told CTV News Ottawa. He adds there will be consequences for those who submitted fraudulent billings. 

“PSPC continues to work closely with the RCMP and other police forces to ensure that any attempted fraud against the government is properly investigated and prosecuted,” Bertrand said. “We will make all efforts to recover all ill-paid funds.”

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