City of Edmonton defrauded of $1.6M in 4-year road sign scheme, police investigating
EDMONTON -- Two City of Edmonton employees stole $1.6 million from the City of Edmonton between 2015 and 2019, according to an audit report published Wednesday afternoon.
The investigation found one employee in the Integrated Infrastructure Services, or Roads Department, “directed City business to a private sign rental company for personal gain.”
The other employee “signed and approved all the false and unsupported cheque requisitions pertaining to the temporary traffic control devices for five Neighbourhood Renewal projects.”
The employees, who were project managers and quit last December and January, have ties to two unnamed road sign companies involved.
One company received $1.6 million of public money between 2015 and 2019 for items such as barricades, traffic cones and signs. The audit investigation found “no evidence that these devices were received.”
The investigation found a second sign company also had invoices approved by a City of Edmonton employee in 2019 for $151,188. Again, there’s no record of the city receiving any devices. In this case, the city recalled payments during the investigation “resulting in no additional financial loss for the City.”
The Edmonton Police Service confirmed to CTV News it has been investigating since April and no charges have been laid.
"We are continuing our efforts to recover as much of the money as possible, which would reduce the direct impacts to tax payers," Deputy City Manager of Financial and Corporate Services Mary Persson said.
Persson said the City of Edmonton is taking steps to make sure it isn't defrauded again, including strengthening approval processes, using analytics to identify abnormalities, increasing training of expenditure officers and increasing fraud awareness.
This fraud report will be discussed with council and the independent audit committee on Sept. 18.