NS: No end in sight to CRDA forensic examination

Darrell Cole, The Amherst News
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'This has gone on long enough,' says Keith Hunter, warden of Cumberland County. 'We, as a funding partner of that organization, and all five municipal units for that matter want some answers as do the taxpayers' regarding Cumberland Regional Development Authority.

TC Media file photo

[AMHERST, NS] – The warden of Cumberland County is growing impatient that a forensic examination of the former Cumberland Regional Development Authority continues to be delayed.

“This has gone on long enough,” Keith Hunter said Thursday. “We, as a funding partner of that organization, and all five municipal units for that matter want some answers as do the taxpayers of Cumberland County.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers was hired a year ago to conduct the forensic examination of the former development agency. While the examination’s results were expected by summer, there’s no end in sight.

“The examination of the Cumberland Regional Development Authority is being done independently by a third party,” Economic and Rural Development Department spokesperson Tina Thibeau said in an email to the Amherst News.

“PricewaterhouseCoopers is working toward completing their work, and we are committed to bringing this issue to a conclusion. They are the experts and we believe it is important they take the time they need to complete their work and do the due diligence required.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers began its examination last January after being hired by then minister Percy Paris. Its job is to review the financial management of the development authority that closed its doors in June as part of a provincial plan to replace regional development authorities with new regional enterprise networks.

There is no timeline for when the review will be complete.

The examination follows a report by provincial ombudsman Dwight Bishop that found questionable accounting practices and a lack of oversight at CRDA. Bishop called for the forensic examination with the recommendation that the results be turned over to police if they are the same as his.

Bishop’s report said invoices were created and used to obtain funds from the province without direct expenditures. Those actions, he said, undermined the accountability process and brought into question matters of credibility and integrity.

Organizations: Cumberland Regional Development Authority, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Rural Development Department Amherst News

Geographic location: Cumberland County

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