A forensic audit of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District is underway and the person leading the initiative has 25 years of fraud experience.
BDO Canada director of forensic investigations Simon Padgett, who has authored a book entitled “Profiling the Fraudster: Removing the Mask to Prevent and Detect Fraud” appeared via Zoom at the regional district meeting on Thursday (May 13) and made a brief presentation to the board. Padgett said the forensic audit began on May 5, including time spent onsite at the regional district in Kamloops.
Padgett said background information and initial discussion with senior management occurred. In addition, the regional district has provided to BDO Canada records and documents. Padgett said a great deal of data will be analyzed, with the hopes of gaining a full picture. In addition, interviews and explanations will be sought. Padgett said the investigation is in the preliminary stages. He said the work will be completed as quickly as possible, but that no estimated end date could be provided at this time. The regional district initially estimated the forensic audit would take about three months.
TNRD directors were not granted an opportunity to ask questions of the auditor, with the intention of board remembers remaining at arm’s length from the audit process.
The forensic audit comes in the wake of a KTW investigation into about a half-million dollars worth of credit card expenses charged to former TNRD CAO Sukh Gill’s taxpayer funded credit card. In February 2020, Gill departed the regional district suddenly with about a half-million severance package, as well as a pension. While the TNRD called Gill’s departure a retirement, a legal agreement between Gill and the regional district, obtained by KTW, show the agreement mandated his departure be referred to as a “retirement.”
In addition, concerns have been raised about contracts and vendor choice under Gill’s tenure, as well as taxpayer funds donated to a religious organization.
In addition to the forensic audit undertaken by the regional district, the RCMP’s federal financial integrity unit is conducting a criminal investigation of potential “financial irregularities” within the TNRD after receiving information from the regional district in March.