WINNIPEG, MAN. — The City of Winnipeg is taking the builders of its police headquarters to court over allegations of fraud after prosecutors declined to file charges in the case.
The city has filed a Statement of Claim and a Notice of Motion with the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in relation to the construction of the WPS Headquarters Project. The documents allege companies and people working on the project intentionally inflated costs by making fake quotes and invoices, changing quotes from subcontractors, and secretly paying contractors.
Specifically, the documents name Caspian Projects Inc., Armik Babakhanians, Triple D Consulting Services and the city’s former chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl.
“Since taking office, I have worked diligently with my Council colleagues and our Public Service to hold people accountable and protect the interests of Winnipeg taxpayers,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Today’s legal actions represent another step toward ensuring individuals are held to account.”
The project was under investigation by the RCMP starting 2014. Over the years, investigators seized more than six terabytes of data. The data garnered 347 gigabytes of evidence including over 1,300 electronic folders and over 36,000 electronic files. Based on what investigators discovered, the RCMP expanded its investigation to include the construction of the new Winnipeg Mail Processing.
Despite the lengthy investigation and evidence gathered, the Manitoba Prosecution Service announced in December that it would not be filing charges as it did not see a reasonable likelihood of conviction.
Following the announcement, the city determined it necessary to file the Statement of Claim and Notice of Motion in order to protect its interests.
“The decision by the MPS to not proceed with criminal charges did not end the matter,” said Michael Jack, chief corporate services officer for the City of Winnipeg. “The city has the right to seek damages to protect its interests when it has suffered loss or damages as a result of an alleged fraud or negligent conduct.”
In addition, the city previously filed a Statement of Claim regarding deficiencies with the construction of the Project. That Statement of Claim is still before the court and working its way through the legal system.
The city purchased Canada Post’s downtown property in 2009, intending to transform it into a police headquarters for roughly $135 million. However, when the facility was completed in 2016 it ended up costing nearly $214 million.
Check out the City of Winnipeg’s Statement of Claim below: