Senators concerned about the reputation of the upper chamber cannot catch a break.
After a short Christmas respite from all the Senate scandal chatter of 2013, one of their former members is, again, in the news for alleged wrongdoing.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, court documents, released Friday, show that the RCMP are investigating whether or not Liberal senator Mac Harb committed mortgage fraud in relation two Ontario properties — one in Cobden and another in Westmeath.
[Cpl. Greg] Horton alleges that Harb secured a $170,000 mortgage on a home in Cobden in December 2007 and then, only hours later, transferred 99.99 per cent ownership to a diplomat from Brunei named Magdalene Theo.
“This action put the bank at a potential risk, constituting a fraud,” Horton said.
Then, in 2010, Harb claimed to be the sole owner of the Cobden property when he applied for a $240,000 mortgage on his new home in Westmeath, Ont.
“This was a fraudulent misrepresentation of the facts on the Westmeath house mortgage application,” Horton wrote.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The mortgage issue is not related to the ongoing investigation into Harb's Senate expenses.
Harb, who was also a former Liberal MP, retired from the upper chamber in August after a Senate committee report alleged that he improperly claimed a living allowance.
Upon his retirement, he begrudgingly repaid the monies.
"I have been contemplating retirement for some time as I personally never considered the Senate to be a lifetime position," he said in a statement in August.
"These past few months have been extremely difficult for me and my family and caused me to evaluate what more I could contribute in the circumstances. My dispute with the Senate Committee on Internal Economy made working effectively in the Senate unrealistic."
According to the Toronto Star, Harb has refused to be interviewed by the RCMP about the mortgages.
The release of the court affidavit is another reminder that the Senate scandals aren't going anywhere and could be damaging for both the Conservative and the Liberal brands heading into the 2015 election.
In addition to the Auditor General's probe into all senators' expenses, the Mounties are continuing their investigation into Harb's expense claims and into the financial transactions of suspended Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
Indeed, 2014 is likely going to be another year of bad news headlines for the Senate.
(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)
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