P.E.I. firm must repay money from tsunami aid work

Published on August 15, 2014

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island

©Guardian photo

A P.E.I. company has been ordered to pay back close to a quarter of a million dollars after a judge of the P.E.I. Supreme Court ruled the company overbilled the Canadian government for international aid work in Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami.

Justice Gordon Campbell said the Canadian Agro Sustainability Partnership (CASP) not only overbilled the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), it also made representations to that agency that were “purposely misleading.”

Campbell dismissed all claims made by CASP and three other plaintiffs in the case — MacArthur Group Inc., Veterinary Management Services Ltd., and Parker Potato Ltd. — during a hearing which consumed close to 40 days between January and June of last year.

He awarded CIDA the sum of $245,526.41, plus interest.

“After listening intently through a lengthy trial, and after reviewing voluminous exhibits and detailed written submissions of counsel, it is clear that the pith and substance of this case is the intentional and undisclosed overbilling by CASP in the invoices it submitted to CIDA,” Campbell wrote in his decision.

Campbellawarded CIDA court costs.

The nature and extent of the costs awarded, and any division of costs amongst the plaintiffs, is to be determined following further submissions from counsel, or by agreement between the parties.

The Canadian Agro Sustainability Partnership is a strategic alliance made up of member organizations with expertise in the area of agro-business and agricultural sustainability.

During times relevant to this action, CASP listed something in the range of 40 to 45 organizations as its members.

The group, headed by Doug MacArthur, won a contract from CIDA to provide aid to Sri Lanka after the tsunami.

That contract was worth something in the area of $3 million but an audit found CASP was marking up the salaries of its field staff by multiples of up to 10 and charging those amounts to CIDA.

The audit disallowed $1.4 million in CASP billings but that figure was later revised down to $750,000.