Newly unsealed court documents allege the contractor who built the new Winnipeg Police Headquarters inflated, altered and forged invoices for work on the controversial project.
The documents include statements taken as part of an investigation into Caspian Construction.
The documents were used when applying for a search warrant at Caspian’s offices on McGillvray Boulevard. Those offices were raided by police in December 2014.
More than 50 pages were unsealed and made public, Monday.
In them, RCMP take statements from several people, including one current and another former employee.
The former employee worked in the accounting department. In the documents, she tells RCMP about a $25,000 cheque written for a swimming pool at a house owned by the son of Caspian’s owner, Armik Babakhanians.
She also described renovations done at another home and septic tank cleaning. There are allegations in the documents that these costs were invoiced to the police headquarters project.
That project is now roughly $75 million over budget. Police have already started moving in to their new home on Graham Avenue.
There are also suggestions in the documents that cost overruns at the Winnipeg Transit Garage project were also invoiced to the police headquarters project, to ensure a profit on the garage project.
None of the allegations in the documents have been proven in court and no one is facing any criminal charges, according to RCMP.
Armik Babakhanians has not responded to a request to comment on this story. Other calls to Caspian Construction have not been returned.
Cheques Written to Sam Katz
The former employee also describes cheques written to then Mayor Sam Katz while she was with Caspian.
She says she believed one was for either $6,000 or $4,000 dollars. She says there was no description on the cheque.
She says she later discovered another cheque for around $6,000 and that both cheques came out of the Caspian Construction account. She says both were personal cheques written to Katz.
The former employee told RCMP Katz and Babakhanians were friends and may have been business partners. She told police she was unaware why the cheques were written.
Another employee, still with the company, told RCMP the cheques were “sporadic” with some being for a few hundred dollars and others for a few thousand. She says in the documents there were approximately 10 to 12 cheques issued around 2013.
She says the cheques would have to be signed by the owner.
She says the first cheque was for a larger amount of approximately $30,000 and “she was advised because the MTS box had come due.”
The employee says she was told the tickets were payment for Winnipeg Jets tickets or concert tickets at MTS Centre.
In an interview with 680 CJOB, Katz admits to receiving cheques from Caspian.
He says they were repayment for tickets, as suggested.
“For concert tickets or other events such as hockey. That’s absolutely factual,” he says. “Basically it was me purchasing tickets, getting them, paying for them on my credit card and then getting repaid for it.”
Katz says he would be happy to talk to RCMP as part of their investigation but has never been asked about the cheques. He said he did not disclose the tickets to auditors during an audit on the police headquarters project that lead to the police investigation.
“That’s not what it was all about,” he says. “There were other things we were looking at in that matter.”