Federal government consultant charged in $250,000 timesheet fraud scheme

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An Ottawa consultant has been charged with overbilling the federal government $250,000 by allegedly submitting fraudulent timesheets on contracts for 18 months, the RCMP said Tuesday.

Clara Elaine Visser, 63, was charged with one count of fraud over $5,000, contrary to Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Visser is scheduled to appear at the Ottawa Courthouse Sept. 6, the RCMP said.

Visser reportedly held a government security clearance for her work, but that was suspended on June 28, 2021. Her clearance was permanently revoked in September, 2023, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said in a statement.

The fraud charge was laid following a probe by the RCMP Federal Policing’s Sensitive and International Investigations Unit (SII). It is part of a broader federal effort to curtail government contract fraud.

PSPC said it first launched its own an internal investigation into the consultant after learning that the suspect had performed subcontract work with eight separate federal departments and Crown corporations through eight different prime contractors.

PSPC referred its findings to the RCMP, which said Tuesday that its own members obtained statements from the eight prime contractors while examining and analyzing Visser’s timesheets.

Evidence allegedly indicates that the consultant submitted fraudulent timesheets that resulted in overbilling by an estimated $250,000 between Jan. 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, police said.

The Mounties said their investigation allegedly confirmed that Visser had overbilled the Government of Canada on an unspecified number of separate contracts.

Visser could not immediately be reached for comment.

The RCMP and the government’s procurement arm both said the Visser investigation is a great example of collaboration between the police and the department to stamp out alleged fraud.

“It demonstrates that we are committed to keeping our nation safe, by protecting the integrity of the federal government and preventing the abuse of taxpayers’ dollars,” said Supt. Jeremie Landry, Officer in Charge, Sensitive and International Investigations Unit, RCMP Central Region.

PSPC said in its own statement that the RCMP’s announcement “indicates the government will not tolerate illegal activities and will bring fraudulent billing schemes to justice.”

Because the case is before the courts, both the RCMP and PSPC declined to provide any additional details about what kind of contracts Visser performed subcontract work on . But the case is not believed to be related to the Arrive Can Covid-19 travel app spending scandal.

This article was originally sourced from www.globalnews.ca