Defence lawyer Donald Presse and Crown Attorney James Clarke at the Yarmouth Justice Centre on Dec. 10. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
The first scheduled court appearance for the former CEO of SWSDA was a brief affair in court â lasting less then three minutes â with the defendant Frank Anderson not present but instead represented by his lawyer.
Anderson is facing eight counts of uttering forged documents and one count of fraud over $5,000. The charges were announced in early October following an RCMP investigation into dealings of the South West Shore Development Authority.
The defence sought an adjournment of the arraignment during the Tuesday, Dec. 10 court appearance, with Crown Attorney James Clarke, of the Special Prosecutions Section, explaining to provincial court Judge Robert Prince the reason for the adjournment request.
âThe discussions we have had prior to court, is (the defence) is seeking additional information that may or may not be in the hands of the investigation agency at this stage,â said Clarke. âAs a result of that, it is my understanding that he will be seeking an adjournment.â
Clarke said the Crown was not opposed to the request by Andersonâs lawyer. The matter has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28.
Outside of the courtroom Andersonâs lawyer, Donald Presse of Bedford, would not comment on what additional information the defence is seeking. All he would say is that these are very serious charges that have been laid against his client and that both he and Anderson want to ensure they have all of the information available before answering to the charges in court.
The fraud charge filed with the court reads that between Sept. 15, 2009 and April 24, 2010, at or near Yarmouth, Anderson did, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, defraud the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) of money of a value exceeding $5,000 by submitting false or improper Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Applicantâs Request for Payment forms, contrary to Section 380(10)(a) of the Criminal Code.
The eight other charges of uttering forged documents list separate timeframes, between the dates of Sept. 15, 2009 and April 24, 2010, in which Anderson is accused of knowingly causing ACOA âto act upon a forged document to wit: an Applicantâs Request for Payment form submitted to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency as if it were genuine, contrary to Section 368(1)(b) of the Criminal Code.â
The charges donât specify what the requests for payments related to. The charges also donât refer to any specific dollar amounts.
In September 2012, the RCMP Federal Operations Section commenced an investigation into the South West Shore Development Authority. The matter was referred to the RCMP by the Department of Economic and Rural Development (ERDT) and its former minister Percy Paris.
The investigation revolved around findings released from an independent forensic examination of SWSDA that had been commissioned by ERDT. The investigation was extensive and included examining expense claims and supplier invoices.
The provincial government released the long-awaited report into the SWSDA forensic audit on Aug. 3, 2012. The audit, carried out by the firm Ernst and Young, pointed to cheques made out to suppliers that were never forwarded, ineffective controls over expenses, a lack of diversified skill sets on the SWSDA board, annual operating deficits and insufficient financial and project information to enable effective oversight both in the long term and on a day-to-day basis.
The forensic audit followed an examination of SWSDA's policies and procedures, which was completed in the spring of 2010.
When SWSDA was shut down in June 2010 many suppliers were left with unpaid bills. Nine municipal units were forced by the provincial government to pay back $588,000 to the Royal Bank, what it was owed by SWSDA on a guaranteed line of credit.
In all, SWSDA owed creditors around $2.3 million. Among those owned money was Garian Construction of Yarmouth County for its work in building the community centre at Par-en-Bas school Tusket. The company was owed around $350,000.
Ian McNicol, president of Garian Construction Ltd. confirmed in October that an out-of-court settlement in the case, brought on behalf of his company, had been reached prior to the provincial election on Oct. 8. Among those named in the suit were all the municipal units, and board members, that were responsible for governing the development authority.
The settlement contains a confidentiality agreement that bars McNicol from discussing the terms of the settlement, but it has been described by others as a partial repayment of the claim.