Nigel Wright, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, won’t face criminal charges after helping a senator repay about C$90,000 ($82,000) of improperly claimed expenses.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police informed Wright he wouldn’t face charges, according to a statement issued yesterday by his lawyer Peter Mantas.
“My intention was to secure the repayment of taxpayer funds,” Wright said in an e-mailed statement. “I believed that my actions were always in the public interest and lawful. The outcome of the RCMP’s detailed and thorough investigation has now upheld my position.”
Wright, a former managing director at Onex Corp. (OCX), took a leave of absence from the Toronto-based private equity firm to join the prime minister’s office in 2011.
“We are pleased the RCMP has made progress in their work,” said Harper Spokesman Jason MacDonald, in an e-mail. “The prime minister’s office will continue offering every possible assistance to the RCMP’s investigation.”
The police decision not to charge Wright marks a break for Harper’s Conservative Party, whose popularity slumped after the senate expense scandal emerged last year, reaching the lowest since they took power in 2006.
Harper’s political troubles began earlier in 2013 with reports that senators, including Harper appointees Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, were claiming expenses they weren’t eligible for. The controversy grew after it was disclosed that Wright wrote a personal check to Duffy to help him reimburse the Senate. The three senators were suspended without pay by the Conservative-dominated chamber.
Harper has said he wasn’t aware of Wright’s plan to provide the funds for Duffy’s repayment.
During their investigation, the RCMP alleged Wright and Duffy may have committed offenses under the sections of the Criminal Code dealing with bribery of public officials, fraud and breach of trust, court documents showed.
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