PETER CONRADI/Bullet News
A forensic audit of the Niagara Parks Commission has, like a police investigation conducted over the last year, not uncovered any criminal activity at the provincial agency.
The audit, which began in December 2010 after repeated allegations of wrongdoing at the NPC involving procurement, expenses, conflict of interest and untendered contracts dating back to 1986, was released in summary form only.
“I’m relieved it’s done and over with,” NPC Chairwoman Janice Thomson told Bullet News. “Now our employees can get on with performing their good work. I’m pleased that the audit was thorough, and cross-checked everything. We have already addressed places where weaknesses were pointed out, and will continue to be vigilant.”
Auditors looked into a series of accusations and in almost all cases reported back that there was nothing to the allegations.
In one instance, though, unnamed people refused to be interviewed in a conflict of interest allegation related to the selection of NPC house wine at its restaurants.
“The alleged parties declined to be interviewed and no information was discovered that indicated a conflict,” writes the report.
Auditors found two late wine submissions were evaluated, contrary to the bid-tendering process, It was unclear how the exclusive house-wine contract was awarded.
There were suggestions that kickbacks from suppliers took place from 2008-2010 – that secret commission payments were demanded by the NPC staff to accept deliveries of alcoholic beverages.
“The investigators were unable to obtain any specific details to identify any questionable payments in NPC’s records or evidence that other consideration was provided to the NPC staff.
“The investigators found that the process of purchasing alcohol at NPC facilities is structured and well recorded.”
Results of an OPP/Niagara Regional Police investigation also did not uncover evidence of criminal activity.