Sheegl’s lawyer seeks court order to question RCMP in lawsuit over WPS HQ project
(File image of the Winnipeg Police Service Headquarters)
WINNIPEG -- The lawyer for the City of Winnipeg’s former CAO, Phil Sheegl, is seeking a court order to question RCMP investigators as part of a lawsuit against his client over the construction of the downtown Winnipeg Police Service headquarters.
Lawyers for the RCMP argued the motion should be dismissed, in part because they say it’s not clear exactly what information Sheegl’s lawyer wants and because it’s irrelevant to the ongoing litigation.
The city is suing Sheegl, Caspian Construction and several others over alleged fraud and conspiracy, which the city argues caused it to suffer financial losses.
During a court appearance last week, Sheegl’s lawyer Robert Tapper told Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal he wants access to examine the RCMP members who were involved in the investigation into the downtown headquarters.
“Justice is at stake,” Tapper told court Oct.6. “The reality is my client has been labelled a criminal. That’s out there and we know it’s not true.”
The RCMP investigated the construction project for five years and no criminal charges were laid.
In his motion to examine the two RCMP members, Tapper also wants the Mounties to produce all documents, notebooks and records of interviews they conducted with three individuals.
“There is reason to believe Sergeant Breanne Chanel and Constable Theoret have information relevant and material to the determination of the issues before this honourable court and the allegations against the Sheegl defendants,” Tapper states in his motion. “The RCMP did not file charges against the Sheegl defendants related to the allegations and grounds for belief outlined in the June 9, 2016 ITO.”
According to court documents Sgt. Chanel swore an information to obtain a production order in Jun. 2016, stating she had reasonable grounds to believe Sheegl had committed a breach of trust in connection with the duties of his office. She cited a $200, 000 payment Sheegl received from Caspian owner Armik Babakhanians through corporate entities the company controlled.
Tapper argues the city’s allegations against his client are based largely on that ITO.
In the motion, Tapper states it was a real estate transaction and not a bribe – something he said is backed in an affidavit by Sgt. Chanel in relation to an ITO dated Jul.17, 2017.
“This statement is of critical importance to this motion. Sergeant Breanne Chanel is acknowledging no bribe was paid,” Tapper states in a Sep.21 brief on the motion.
Tapper’s motion states he’s not able to get the information from others involved in the case, who are entitled to be examined as part of the normal discovery process. He argues his questions for the RCMP “are not a mere fishing expedition.”
“It is utterly critical to Sheegl’s defence of himself and his companies that the RCMP officers be examined,” Tapper states in the brief.
Lawyers for the RCMP argued the motion should be dismissed, stating in court documents the information Tapper wants can be obtained from other people named in the lawsuit.
“The moving parties’ brief appears dedicated to examining the Arizona transaction with Armik Babakhanians and, in essence, whether Sheegl accepted a ‘bribe’ from him,” lawyers Scott Farlinger and David Grohmueller, who represent the Attorney General of Canada and RCMP, stated in court documents in response to Tapper’s motion. “Babakhanians is discoverable by Sheegl, and has direct knowledge of the transaction. The question should be addressed directly to him.”
“Sheegl is aware of the legitimacy of his Arizona transaction, and whether he was ‘bribed.’ He may testify to these facts himself at trial.”
In court documents, the RCMP’s lawyers state they’ve asked Tapper to identify the information he wants and share questions he has for the investigators.
“To the extent the RCMP understands what it believes to be sought, it has attempted to provide responsive information,” Farlinger and Grohmueller stated.
None of the allegations in the city’s lawsuit have been tested in court.
No ruling on the motion was made. The two sides agreed to discuss the matter further. The motion has been adjourned and is expected to be back in court before Nov.15.