WINNIPEG — Questions are being raised about the company at the centre of a massive RCMP investigation into Winnipeg’s new police headquarters and former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz.
On Monday, a 51-page search warrant application was unsealed that alleges Caspian Construction may have charged the city for work that had nothing to do with the new police headquarters.
The search warrant that allowed the RCMP to raid Caspian Construction in 2014 cites testimony of former employees who said the firm wrote 10 to 12 personal cheques in 2013 to Katz.
“Even if it turns out that the criminal law wasn’t violated, it’s unethical. It’s highly unethical,” said Arthur Schafer, founding director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba.
The document alleges cheques from the construction company totaling more than $30,000 were made out to Katz.
“The cheques were sporadic, sometimes in the amount of a few hundred, sometimes in the amount of a few thousand and lately a larger one,” a former Caspian employee told RCMP.
Katz claims the money was repayment for both Winnipeg Jets and concert tickets at the MTS Centre.
“I could list all sorts of people you would know that I’ve done this for and that I continue to do it for,” Katz said. “I have acquaintances all over the city obviously I meet a lot of people. If someone asks me for a small favour, I’m happy to accommodate it.”
But Schafer said the former mayor’s relationship with Caspian clashed with his public responsibilities.
“He is voting on huge development contracts for Caspian and he is accepting tens of thousands of dollars,” Schafer said.
The exchanges between Katz and the owner of the company are just a part of a larger RCMP investigation into potential criminal activity.
A former employee interviewed by Mounties said she believes Caspian billed the city for a pool built on the property of the owner’s son and that she believes it was charged to the Winnipeg police headquarters project.
A kitchen renovation was also allegedly done at a Tuxedo home. That same employee claims she was told “this is going to be another house renovation paid for by the city.”
Those allegations were part of the document used to secure a search warrant at Caspian in 2014.
To date no charges have been laid and none of the allegations have been proven.