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'We're going to catch you': City workers fired following Toronto fraud investigation

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Toronto’s top auditor is reporting a record number of fraud and waste allegations as part of her annual audit into wrongdoing within City Hall, leading to the firing of some city workers and even police prosecution.

The Auditor General’s office received 1,054 complaints via its reporting hotline last year, representing 1,450 allegations — the highest number since the program began in 2002.

“We cannot afford, literally, to have people defraud the taxpayers of the City of Toronto, and have waste,” Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow told CTV Toronto. “We need to make sure that every single dollar goes to the priorities of the people of this city.”

The allegations of fraud implicated municipal staff, residents, and companies doing business with City Hall.

In one instance, an unidentified builder was accused of constructing mansions with grandiose features not approved by the Toronto Building department.

One of the homes was more than 600 square metres in size and contained a basketball court and underground parking for six vehicles, auditor Tara Anderson noted.

“The builder made material changes to both houses without getting the proper approval,” she concluded, indicating that other homes may not comply with the code as well, “and therefore could be unsafe.”

In another instance of fraud a city employee was found to own a subcontracting company that was being granted municipal contracts, in breach of conflict of interest rules in at least four instances.

A member of the public, meanwhile, was found to have used fake identities to claim 31 fraudulent subsidy payments worth $61,000. The auditor referred that matter to the Toronto Police for prosecution.

In total, a dozen city workers were disciplined last year for fraud and waste, including a municipal employee who was fired for using sick days to work shifts at another job.

Another city worker submitted false benefits claims for 33 instances where no service was provided. That employee was also terminated, and is now ineligible to work for the city.

The auditor pegs the total loss to fraud and waste over the last five years at nearly $30 million.

“We do need every dollar,” audit committee member Paula Fletcher told CTV Toronto. “And we do need to say, ‘if you’re going to break the rules, we’re going to catch you.’” 

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