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Monday, December 5, 2022
Fired hydro worker pays back 60% of stolen funds

A Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro manager who was fired after defrauding the utility of more than $250,000 has repaid more than half of the money, so far, hydro's CEO says.

“Sixty per cent of the funds have now been returned,” NOTL Hydro president Tim Curtis told The Lake Report Tuesday.

“We are expecting more this week and the remainder in October. We still expect to recover 100 per cent of the funds,” Curtis said.

The Niagara Regional Police have been notified and a detective has been assigned to the case, he said.

A police spokesperson said the criminal investigation is proceeding but no charges have been laid.

On the advice of lawyers retained by the utility, Curtis said he could not release the name or personal details of the former employee, who was a senior manager.

The scheme involved phony invoices issued and paid over an 18-month period, he said.

The fraud “was accomplished by the creation of a false contract and the approval of subsequent false invoices,” he said last week in a statement to The Lake Report.

The fraud was discovered by a co-worker in the finance department who was processing a payment.

After the co-worker brought the discrepancy to the attention of senior management, the utility began an internal investigation and subsequently hired a Toronto forensic accounting firm to look into the case.

Only two business days elapsed between the discovery of the fraud on a Thursday and the firing of the employee the following Monday.

In the wake of the discovery, hydro has been examining its internal procedures. 

“Beyond recovering the money, our focus is on ensuring there were no other frauds and maintaining operations,” Curtis said this week. “No evidence of anything else has been found.”