RCMP recommended charges in Winnipeg police HQ probe in briefing note: NDP
The Winnipeg Police Service headquarters building. (Jon Hendricks/CTV News).
WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba NDP says an internal RCMP document shows Mounties believed they had enough evidence for charges and arrests related to the construction of Winnipeg’s downtown police station.
The NDP obtained a three-page RCMP briefing note from May 2018 through an Access to Information and Privacy request.
The document reads that in May and June 2017, a report to the Crown was provided to Public Prosecution for review.
According to the briefing note, “The reports recommended criminal charges relating to financial crimes with an estimated value of over $33 million.”
“Certainly, the RCMP have recommended charges in respect of fraud and forgery. That’s a huge thing that we didn’t know, that nobody knew at this point,” said NDP Justice Critic Nahanni Fontaine.
But, before prosecutors were prepared to move forward, the briefing note says they wanted “non-custodial cautioned,” interviews with the people the report was recommending charges against.
The names are blacked out in the document, as are other details.
According to the internal note, in April 2018 a final charge approval had not yet been received from the Crown, yet it appears Mounties were anticipating arrests and charges.
“Once charge approval is received, and charges laid, it is anticipated that it will take 2-4 weeks to upload the newly generated disclosable material to the...database, and have packages available for both Crown and Defence,” says the briefing note.
A year and a half later in December 2019, The Manitoba Prosecution Service announced that based on its review, it was “not authorizing any criminal charges” based on the investigation known as Project Dalton. Charges considered included breach of trust, fraud, forgery, and money laundering. It said at the time there was not enough evidence to approve criminal charges “as there is not a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
Fontaine wants to know why.
“That’s the crux of the matter here,” said Fontaine, “What is it that Prosecutions decided that it would not warrant charges?”
Mayor Brian Bowman and Winnipeg City Council have called for an independent public inquiry, a step the province has rejected.
Fontaine is renewing calls for an inquiry and she wants an out-of-province expert to take a second look at the evidence.
“To look again (at) whether or not there is a case to be made to charge those individuals that the RCMP have recommended,” said Fontaine.
Manitoba RCMP said it has nothing to add when asked for comment.
Prosecutions said after a comprehensive review of the legal issues and foundational facts, “MPS concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to approve any criminal charges, as there is not a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
The police station project went tens of millions of dollars over budget.
During the five-year investigation, Mounties alleged in court documents the city was the victim of a multi-million dollar fraud.
In the briefing note obtained by the NDP, RCMP said Project Dalton was started to investigate criminal activity related to altered documents and inflated invoices submitted to the city.
In December 2014, Mounties raided Caspian Construction.
“The focus of the investigation was Caspian Construction, the general contractor for the project,” says the briefing note.
The briefing note also indicates that investigators “looked into fifteen of approximately fifty sub-trades” involved in parts of the project.
CTV News reached out to Caspian for comment, and have not yet heard back.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
In a statement, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen said the Manitoba Prosecution Service makes the decisions regarding the pursuit of charges following an investigation.
"MPS engaged in a significant process in respect of the issues surrounding the new police headquarters, conducting interviews, and reviewing documents and financials," Friesen wrote in a statement. "That process concluded with the determination that a threshold was not met to proceed to charges. Our government has confidence in the process that was undertaken by the MPS.”