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Former MLA over-billed by thousands

<p>A former Tory MLA overbilled the government by $7,138 through a contract he was awarded days after losing a provincial election, an internal audit has discovered.</p>

Maskell won’t face fraud charges


A former Tory MLA overbilled the government by $7,138 through a contract he was awarded days after losing a provincial election, an internal audit has discovered.





Bob Maskell, former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark, was paid over $200,000 through a contract with the province between November 2004 and April 2007.





An internal audit found that Maskell over-billed for travel expenses and his government contract was actually signed two months after his services commenced.





“There were some irregularities with respect to the accounts,” said deputy premier Ron Stevens. “Those were as a result of the rules that are in place and not being followed by the expenditure officers and therefore not picked up.”





Stevens, who is also the province’s justice minister, said Maskell will not face fraud charges because there doesn’t appear to be any effort to intentionally deceive.





Liberal critic Bill Bonko is demanding an external review for the over-billing since the internal auditor found that such basic financial mistakes occurred.





“We want to be convinced that we can trust the government to do the right thing all the time — not some of the time, and not correct the mistakes as they happen,” he said. “There shouldn’t be any mistakes at this level.”





The bigger concern is the hiring of Maskell in the first place since he received a government contract days after he lost an election, he said.





Maskell has paid back the entire sum he over-billed the government. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.















Allegations


  • In the fall of 2005, expenses submitted by Maskell appear to bill the government for 50 hours of work in a single day. Another invoice charges the government $600 for a meeting with Tory MLA Thomas Lukasuk.


 
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