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City of Winnipeg, businesses, contractors square off in court over police HQ

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg squares off with businesses and contractors in court over over-budget police headquarters' Winnipeg squares off with businesses and contractors in court over over-budget police headquarters
The City of Winnipeg is alleging fraud, conspiracy and kickbacks in regards to the new police headquarters building which ended up some $79 million over budget. Global's Amber McGuckin was in court for day one and brings us this report – Jun 8, 2020

The City of Winnipeg and a number of businesses connected to the construction of the Winnipeg Police Service’s headquarters were in court Monday.

In its statement of claim, the city says 37 businesses or people created, invented or inflated invoices for the project, and consultants either knew or were negligent after the headquarters came in about $79 million over budget.

READ MORE: Proving alleged fraud, kickbacks in Winnipeg police headquarters case easier in civil suit: law prof

The city is seeking damages but hasn’t come forward with a number.

This lawsuit alleges Caspian Construction, its owner Armik Babakhanians, a number of its subcontractors and employees conspired to implement “a scheme to defraud the city and thereby obtain monies under false pretenses.”

It also claims contractors received “kickbacks”, along with former city CAO Phil Sheegl and his companies, to the tune of $527,000.

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On Monday, a lawyer representing Caspian and a number of other accused parties told a Winnipeg court the city hasn’t been specific enough in its allegations of fraud.

“The city is trying to run away from providing details or particulars because either they’re lazy, or they can’t,” said Jeff Baigrie, who filed a motion to strike parts of the statement of claim from the city.

“The allegations are all over the map.”

READ MORE: City launches massive lawsuit alleging fraud, kickbacks over Winnipeg Police Headquarters

Baigrie says there must be invoices, if not hundreds, that would back up the city’s claims, but he hasn’t seen which invoices or documents are in question.

The city is also accusing Sheegl of conspiracy and receiving a bribe for handing out a contract to Caspian.

“From the city’s perspective, you got us into this,” Michael Finlayson, a lawyer for the city, told the courtroom.

However, Sheegl’s lawyer, Robert Tapper, says his client is being unfairly accused by association, and wants him removed from the lawsuit.

“His involvement was over the moment the contract was signed… the collectivization and lumping is offensive,” said Tapper.

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Read the full statement of claim:

The RCMP began an investigation into the matter in 2014 at the request of the province.

That investigation went cold in December when Manitoba Justice said it would not be pursuing charges due to lack of evidence.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The case will continue to be heard Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg mayor says still ‘unanswered questions’ over building of police headquarters' Winnipeg mayor says still ‘unanswered questions’ over building of police headquarters
Winnipeg mayor says still ‘unanswered questions’ over building of police headquarters – Dec 13, 2019

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