Mike Duffy, the suspended Canadian senator at the center of an expenses scandal that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, is facing 31 criminal charges for fraud, breach of trust and bribery, Canadian police announced today.
The charges deal with three separate cases of fraudulent expense claims and a fourth case of bribing a public official, Gilles Michaud, commanding officer at the national division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told reporters at a televised press conference in Ottawa. The total amount of fraud alleged by the police is more than C$200,000 ($186,000).
“Today’s charges are the result of a careful examination of all the facts,” Michaud said.
Duffy will appear in an Ottawa court on Sept. 16, Michaud said. Donald B. Bayne, Duffy’s lawyer, said in a statement earlier today that his client has done nothing wrong.
Duffy “has never had a fair hearing, either in the Senate or in the media,” Bayne said in an e-mailed statement. “We are confident that when the full story is told, as it will be, and shown to be supported by many forms of evidence, it will be clear that Senator Duffy is innocent of any criminal wrong-doing.”
The scandal began early in 2013 with reports that some senators, including Duffy, were claiming expenses they weren’t eligible for. The controversy grew after it was disclosed that Nigel Wright, Harper’s former chief of staff, wrote a personal check to Duffy to help him reimburse the Senate. Duffy and two other Harper-appointed senators were suspended without pay by the Conservative-dominated chamber.
The RCMP informed Wright in April he would wouldn’t face charges.