Friday, March 12, 2004

160 million

Canada's military is investigating a "scheme that bilked the defence department of almost $160 million in bogus computer contracts."

The RCMP is investigating a "sophisticated" scheme that bilked the defence department of almost $160 million in bogus computer contracts over 10 years, Public Works Minister Stephen Owen said yesterday.

"Our suspicion to date, because of the internal audits and the forensic audits and now the RCMP investigations, (is) that this was a very sophisticated criminal scheme," Owen said after a cabinet meeting.

Auditors discovered problems with a contract with Hewlett-Packard and that information was passed along to the Department of National Defence last April. The department hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a forensic audit.

Critics yesterday demanded to know how $160 million could go out the "back door" without the government being aware of it.

"When 10 soldiers were given $50 for daily food allowances, this government was quick to pounce on them and get every nickel back," Conservative MP Elsie Wayne (Saint John) said during Question Period.

"At the same time, $160 million was walking right out the back door, in a phony invoice scheme."


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