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The Canadian Senate Kept A Senator's Wrongful Expenses Off The Books For Seven Years

Raymond Lavigne's wrongful expenses didn't show up in Public Accounts until 2013.

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The Canadian Senate kept a senator's fraudulent expenses off the books for years, government spending records show.

A judge found former Liberal Senator Raymond Lavigne guilty of fraud and breach of trust in 2011 and sentenced Lavigne to six months in jail.

The Senate — required by law to report losses of public money every fiscal year — didn't report Lavigne's more than $23,000 in fraudulent spending to Public Accounts until 2013, approximately seven years after the Senate first became aware of the problem.

The case goes back to 2006, when Lavigne repaid the Senate in the hopes that the matter would end there. The RCMP charged him the following year.

The Red Chamber officially reported Lavigne's expenses at the same time other senators were making headlines for their involvement in the evolving Senate expense scandal.

"The Senate only reported it in the 2013 Public Accounts because it was at that time that amounts for Senators Wallin, Brazeau, Duffy and Harb were being reported in the Public Accounts," Senate spokesperson Mélisa Leclerc said in an email.

"We had neglected to report similarly for Lavigne previously, and upon advice from the Receiver General, we corrected the Public Accounts in 2012-13," she said.

UPDATE

Asked why the Senate neglected to report Lavigne's expenses, Leclerc said Tuesday that the "reporting requirements were clarified in 2013 by the Receiver General in the spirit of transparency the Senate decided to disclose current and past related expenses."‎

Typically, losses of public money are reported as soon as they're discovered.

The entry in Public Accounts 2013, which appears to have gone unreported by media at the time, acknowledges that Lavigne's faulty expenses were discovered years prior: "Fraudulent claim of travel expense that was discovered and repaid in 2006-2007 (1 case): $23,666."

A judge found Lavigne had been charging taxpayers for travel costs he hadn't incurred and had used a publicly-paid staffer to cut down trees on his property.

Lavigne remained on the Senate payroll throughout his court proceedings, collecting $133,000 per year until his resignation. During that time, he continued to bill taxpayers for thousands of dollars in expenses, the CBC reported.

Emma Loop is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. PGP fingerprint: 4A39 DD99 953C 6CAF D68C 85CD C380 AB23 859B 0611.

Contact Emma Loop at emma.loop@buzzfeed.com.

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