March 25, 2004

Corruption File: Flags and Fake Invoices

Flag retailers claim government paid for fake invoices Mar. 19, 04

Retailers asked to sell Canadian flags to the federal Department of Public Works in the late 1990s didn't supply the merchandise but got kickbacks when they submitted fake invoices, CBC-TV's National News reported last night.

B.C. flag retailer Don Williams told the CBC his company received about $5,000 in return for a fake invoice documenting flags he never supplied.

"I think this was just a way for the government to get around some of the rules of purchasing," Williams said. "Not my baby finger was lifted. I did nothing. This was simply a payoff."

The CBC report didn't explain why the government would solicit fake invoices and pay for flags it didn't receive, nor where the flags the government distributed came from, though some retailers said they suspected they were cheap knock-offs made in China.

The flag giveaway lasted five years and cost at least $23 million.

[. . . .] Another flag retailer, Doreen Braverman, said last week she, too, was paid for a phoney invoice. "It was a little kickback, yes," she told the CBC.

Braverman said she complained for years about the scheme to then-prime minister Jean Chr├ętien, Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano and Finance Minister Paul Martin.

Martin replied, in 1997, that it was Sheila Copps' jurisdiction.

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