A lawyer for a former City of Winnipeg chief administrative officer told a court Tuesday there’s still undisclosed evidence surrounding the construction of the downtown police headquarters — and he wants to be allowed to question two RCMP officers who investigated the project.
The city filed a lawsuit last January against dozens of defendants, including former City of Winnipeg CAO Phil Sheegl and Caspian Construction, the company contracted to build the downtown Winnipeg police headquarters.
The lawsuit alleges the construction cost of the police headquarters was inflated through secret kickbacks and fraudulent paperwork.
In Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Tuesday, Sheegl’s lawyer Robert Tapper argued that he should be allowed to question the RCMP’s Sgt. Breanne Chanel and Const. Stephane Theoret.
“I know that there’s more to this story, and there’s more to learn that’s out there, that the RCMP can give me, about what they knew and when they knew it,” Tapper told court.
“And that impacts directly on the theory of the city as to the liability of my client.”
RCMP investigated allegations of fraud and forgery associated with the construction project, but the investigation ended in 2019 with no charges being laid.
“I happen to know that there’s more evidence out there that has not been disclosed,” Tapper said.
“I’m satisfied that if I can get my hands on the notebooks, for example, of the RCMP officers, and question them about it,” it would help to answer the question, “did my client do something wrong?” he said.
Tapper’s motion before Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal seeks an order compelling Sgt. Chanel and Const. Theoret to produce all documents, their notebooks, and all records of communications with certain individuals in the case.
But Tapper said acquiring the documents is not enough.
“A document is one thing, but questioning somebody on a document is another,” he said.
The motion asserts that it would be unfair for Sheegl to be required to proceed to discovery or trial without having the opportunity for his lawyer to examine the two RCMP officers.
RCMP had previously alleged in court documents that Sheegl was paid “a secret commission” to help Caspian secure the contract for the project.
A court brief submitted by Tapper said “The RCMP knew in July 2017 (or earlier … examination will reveal that fact) that the monies paid were for a real estate transaction. They sat quietly for the next several years while every media source locally, and perhaps nationally, excoriated Phil Sheegl.”
The brief alleges the RCMP “sat quietly when this lawsuit was commenced making allegations of criminality against Sheegl, notwithstanding that they had investigated thoroughly and come to a conclusion … that there was a real estate transaction, and the monies were not a bribe.”
Chief Justice Joyal reserved his decision on Tapper’s motion for a future date.
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