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Release of Duffy investigation findings said to be ‘imminent’

Senator Mike Duffy and Senator Pamela Wallin leaves the Senate by a back door on Parliament Hill October 22, 2013 in Ottawa.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

After closing the Nigel Wright file, the RCMP is nearing completion on its investigation into Senator Mike Duffy's expense claims and his contractual dealings with one of his friends, sources said.

The release of the findings in the case is "imminent," one official said, although the precise timeline has not yet been determined.

Sources added the investigation into Senator Pamela Wallin is still months away from completion, with much work left to go over her agendas and explore her expense claims.

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"It's going to take time, there is a lot of work to be done in terms of reconstructing her schedule," said a government source who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The RCMP has already charged Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau over their Senate expense claims, ensuring the controversy will continue for months, and likely years.

Both Mr. Duffy and Ms. Wallin are former broadcasters who were appointed to the Senate as Conservatives by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They have since both been ejected from the party's caucus and are currently suspended from the Red Chamber.

If Mr. Duffy is charged, the Tories risk a further public airing of the PMO's efforts to manage fallout from his spending record – the RCMP want Mr. Wright to testify if the matter goes to court, a senior government source said.

Mr. Duffy has always vigorously denied any wrongdoing, but refused to comment further after the RCMP decided not to lay charges against Mr. Wright, Mr. Harper's former chief of staff.

"After consulting my legal team, I have concluded that it would be inappropriate for me to comment while these matters are under study by the RCMP," the suspended senator said in a statement.

Mr. Wright gave $90,000 last year to Mr. Duffy, who was under pressure to reimburse a series of controversial expense claims. The RCMP investigated the possibility that the payment constituted breach of trust, bribery or fraud, but announced Tuesday that the file was closed.

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"Upon completion of the investigation, we have concluded that the evidence gathered does not support criminal charges against Mr. Wright," spokeswoman Lucy Shorey said in a statement.

Mr. Duffy is still under investigation for his living allowances, with the RCMP looking at housing claims that were made for a secondary residence in the Ottawa area. There is evidence that he spent more of his time in Ottawa than at his Prince Edward Island residence.

In addition, the RCMP is looking into $64,916.50 in contracts that went to Gerald Donohue, one of Mr. Duffy's friends. According to documents filed in court by the RCMP, Mr. Donohue "acknowledged that he produced no tangible work product for Duffy" and instead provided online research and verbal advice on subjects "such as obesity, or being a Conservative."

In court records, the RCMP has alleged that Ms. Wallin used "deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent means" to defraud the Senate of more than $5,000. The Mounties also alleged that Senate staff cautioned Ms. Wallin about her expenses on several occasions beginning in September, 2009.

The Saskatchewan senator has said in the past that she may have made mistakes in filing some of her expenses, but has also insisted she did not intentionally charge the Senate for unrelated expenses. However, Senate officials cautioned Ms. Wallin about her claims, noting that any business she conducted in Toronto – where Ms. Wallin owned a condo – "had to comply with Senate policy," according to the documents.

In January, 2012, they again raised concerns with Ms. Wallin over the high percentage of travel claims that had been filed without a specific purpose listed and a high percentage of stopovers that were claimed in Toronto for Senate business.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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