WINNIPEG – The lawyer that represents both former CAO Phil Sheegl and former mayor Sam Katz is speaking out following new RCMP allegations surrounding the construction of the downtown police headquarters.
Robert Tapper says his clients are “horrified” and describes the entire two year investigation as “sloppy.”
Court documents obtained by Global News allege Sheegl was paid $200,000 by Caspian Construction, which is owned by Armik Babakhanians, for giving the company the contract to build the police headquarters within the former Canada Post Office on Graham Avenue.
Mounties also allege Sheegl appeared to have shared that money with Katz.
“It’s a nasty allegation and unfortunately for my clients, it is very public, very harmful, and 100 per cent inaccurate,” said Robert Tapper, attorney for both Sheegl and Katz.
Tapper says the payment was part of a real estate deal on a piece of property in Arizona.
“The $200,000 was simply a down payment towards a $327,000 acquisition by Babakhanians of an interest held by Phil Sheegl and Sam Katz on some land basically outside Phoenix,” Tapper said.
Tapper admitted that while the optics of this deal look bad, he says everyone has known for years about Katz’s real estate deals in Arizona and his business agreements with Sheegl.
“(Investigators) didn’t bother to check into the real estate community, they didn’t speak to either Phil Sheegl or Sam Katz and anyone connected with them, they knew that these gentlemen were in business as partners and friends in the real estate development community in and around Phoenix,” Tapper said.
No charges have been laid against Sheegl or Katz and none of the RCMP allegations have been proven in court.
In response to the allegations, Mayor Brian Bowman announced he will call for a public inquiry. Bowman said he will put forward a motion within the next month at an executive policy meeting calling on the province to look into the incident.
“I’m deeply disturbed, distressed and angered by these allegations, and all Winnipeggers should be too,” Bowman said.
In a statement, Heather Stefanson, Manitoba’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General said it was premature to comment on an issue that remains under active criminal investigation.
With files from Global News Reporter Talia Ricci