The man who masterminded one of the largest frauds in Canadian history was sentenced to seven years in jail yesterday.
Immediately after sentencing yesterday at Ottawa’s provincial courthouse, Paul Champagne, a former consultant and employee of the Department of National Defence, was taken into custody to begin serving concurrent, seven-year sentences for bilking DND of more than $100 million between 1994 and 2004 through an elaborate false invoicing scheme.
In a brief statement at his sentencing, Champagne, who had pleaded guilty, said, “I accept full responsibility. I am sincerely sorry for the damage I’ve caused.
“Specifically, I am sorry for the hit to the reputation of the Department of National Defence.”
Justice Ann Alder called the fraud a result of personal greed and an abuse of trust and position. However, Champagne’s early guilty plea after his arrest in 2006 and repayments he made to the government were among the factors that contributed to Alder accepting the joint recommendation from both the prosecution and the defence.
Before the sentence was delivered, Champagne’s lawyer Michael Edelson said despite the large amounts of money diverted over a long period of time, the scheme was not well disguised. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation into the fraud revealed that, between 1994 and 2004, Champagne had deposited around $142 million into his personal accounts.
“There was no sophistication,” he said. “What I find astounding is that at Public Works and DND, no internal audits turned up anything for many, many years.”
Prosecutor Alex Hrybinsky was satisfied afterwards that the length of sentence was in line with similar fraud cases.
“The message to be gleaned from sentencing in these type of cases is of general deterrence,” he said. “The sentence should deter anyone else from considering a similar … activity.”