Hampstead CEO stayed at Disney World on taxpayers’ money: report

“It is regrettable that these circumstances have overshadowed the impeccable record of our chief executive,” Hampstead Borough Council said in a statement.

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TO explosive report by the Commission municipale du Québec found that its CEO used tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds to pay for trips to Disney World, Las Vegas and Barcelona, ​​as well as to purchase a gym membership and drinks at the Société des alcools du Québec. points of sale, among other expenses.

Furthermore, the report raised questions about an apparent lack of oversight and financial controls by the city administration in relation to the use of credit cards issued by the general manager in Hampstead.

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In a Thursday letter attached to the Jan. 9 report and addressed to Hampstead CEO Richard Sun, CMQ chairman concluded that “reprehensible acts have been committed against the town of Hampstead…namely contraventions of the law , abuse of public funds and a serious case of mismanagement.”

“We consider that the credit card charges and benefits granted to management, including those granted by the CEO to himself, are expenses incurred in violation of the Cities and Towns Act,” added the president of the CMQ, Jean-Philippe Marois.

Hampstead Council issued two statements on Friday in response to the CMQ report. In the first statement, Mayor Jeremy Levi and the council expressed “I have full confidence in the city’s CEO and have no reason to suspect foul play or inappropriate conduct.”

“Our administrative framework incorporates rigorous checks and balances, underlined by annual external audits that have consistently revealed no evidence of fraud or mismanagement,” the statement continued.

“It is regrettable that these circumstances have overshadowed the impeccable record of our CEO, especially as he approaches his previously announced retirement on January 15 after 18 years of dedicated and exemplary service to the City of Hampstead.”

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He second attributed statement a comment, made in the first statement, directly to the councilor Jack Ederywho is in charge of the finance portfolio.

“While the expenses reported by CMQ were authorized by the city council, we recognize that our authorization procedures can be improved.” Edery said. “We are dedicated to the continuous improvement of our administrative processes and are committed to strengthening all relevant policies, regulations and internal controls in accordance with CMQ recommendations.”

Hampstead, an affluent township of about 7,000 people, also promised to launch “an independent external investigation to thoroughly analyze the expenses in question.”

Neither Levi nor Sun were immediately available for comment.

Hampstead Mayor Jeremy Levi is shown his office in Montreal on October 27, 2021.
Hampstead Mayor Jeremy Levi expressed “full confidence in the city’s CEO and has no reason to suspect foul play or inappropriate conduct.” Levi is shown around his office in Montreal on October 27, 2021. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

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Based on a complaint received, the CMQ investigation unit decided to verify the complaints of “improper use of credit cards by municipal employees and inadequate control of expenses incurred.” Among the report’s conclusions:

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  • The CEO “regularly used two municipal credit cards to make various purchases at gas stations, restaurants, a deli, SAQ, Costco, Staples, Apple, a gym, a medical clinic, airlines, hotels, and to make donations, to name a few. Some examples. but a few.”
  • The CEO’s “expenses are substantial. “They add up to more than $150,000 in 2022.”
  • From 2018 to 2023, “restaurant expenses amounted to $8,000 and $14,000 in some years.”

The report, which did not identify Sun by name, included apparent explanations by the CEO for some of the expenses incurred. “The CEO explained that since there is no space to hold meetings in city hall, meetings are held in restaurants. According to him, holding meetings during meals also saves time,” the report notes.

The report also notes that “the cost of meals served at these gatherings, where alcohol is sometimes consumed, is paid for by credit card and the cost of alcohol is not charged to employees.”

The CMQ report follows other revelations of questionable spending by the former head of the Montreal Consultation Office, Dominique Ollivier, who subsequently resigned as president of the city’s executive committee.

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