The director of finance at a Halifax children’s hospital told a fraud trial today she was surprised when a major part of the former CEO’s expenses had vanished from a publicly disclosed report.
Mary Lynn Van Tassel is testifying in the trial of Tracy Kitch, who has been charged with breach of trust and fraud over $5,000 in relation to her expense claims to the IWK Health Centre.
The financial officer says that when she prepared the former CEO’s expenses in late 2016 for public viewing, she noticed they were “very high” compared to the expenses of the CEO of the much larger Nova Scotia Health agency.
Van Tassel says the draft she prepared for the chief financial officer included costs such as thousands of dollars in flight passes, which are booklets of prepaid flights that can be used on short notice.
She told Halifax provincial court that after the expenses were posted publicly online in January 2017, she noticed her draft figure of about $34,000 had fallen sharply, adding that the list no longer contained large flight pass expenses.
Van Tassel told court that the version of Kitch’s expenses posted for public consumption for the period between April 2016 to December 2016 was $16,685.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Wow, this has changed.’ It was changed dramatically,” Van Tassel testified.
“What had been taken out was the flight passes and it looked like there was obviously some of the pass costs were missing.”
Kitch had started working at the children’s hospital in August 2014 after moving to Nova Scotia from her home in Oakville, Ont. She left the hospital in June 2017.
In 2017, the hospital ordered an investigation after CBC revealed discrepancies in Kitch’s expenses. The hospital’s report concluded that $47,000 in expenses charged to the hospital had been deemed by auditors as “potentially personal.” All the money was repaid by the time Kitch stepped down that summer.
The Crown said Monday in its opening statement that it will focus on 68 transactions by Kitch between 2014 and 2017, including for flights between Toronto and Halifax.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2021.