The all new Senate president said Monday that to avoid any risk of abuse, members of the upper chamber were strongly encouraged to never sign reimbursement claims “blank”.
Testifying Monday to criminal trial of Mike Duffy, George Furey, a Liberal until the chef Justin Trudeau excluded all senators in his caucus, assured that he had never signed such expense claims in white – a bad management practice, in his eyes.
An assistant Duffy has already stated at trial that the former Conservative senator from Prince Edward Island, to speed up the bureaucratic process had already affixed his signature on blank claim forms that could be filled by after.
Mike Duffy pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud, corruption and breach of trust in respect of expense claims for housing, travel and other services. In his defense, his lawyers argue in particular that the eligibility rules of expenditures were very vague and thus left room for interpretation. A thesis already outlined in 2010 by the auditing firm Ernst & Young.
When examining the audit report of expenditures Duffy in 2013, Liberal Senator Furey was one of three members of the executive committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. He said Monday at the trial that senior officials received clarification questions from senators about the eligibility of some expenses, encouraged a scruple, he has said.
Crown particular accuses Duffy have claimed reimbursement for its Ottawa housing expenses while living there for years as parliamentary correspondent.
Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, did tell the witness, earlier Monday that before the investigators, he had argued that the distinction between primary and secondary residence did not need to be specified because they were “going self”. According to Mr. Bayne, Senator Furey would have said that a principal residence, that is where live his or her spouse and the couple’s dog, and where “his usual pub”.