Friday, April 28, 2017

Alberta names new leader to its “AgriCorp”

Alberta says it will soon appoint eight directors who will work under new oversight rules for the agency that handles crop insurance, disaster aid and farm loans. It’s somewhat like AgriCorp in Ontario.

Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier appointed professional agrologist Jennifer Wood to chair the new board of the Agriculture Financial Services Corp.

Carlier sacked the old six-member board about a year ago and suspended three top executives.

"I lost confidence in the last board after an investigation of staff expenses left me seriously concerned that there was a culture of entitlement at AFSC," Carlier said Thursday.

An audit found the executives engaged in questionable purchasing practices and racked up lavish expenses for trips, dinners and limousine rides. The executives were suspended with pay.

Carlier said two of the executives have retired while the former president, Brad Klak, did not have his contract renewed.

Carlier says a police investigation continues, and says the new board will now hire a permanent CEO.

The corporation has 600 employees spread over 46 offices with a head office in Lacombe.

An internal audit, delivered to Carlier a year ago, focused on the preceding four years and found numerous irregularities.

Many of the problems surrounded the broker hired by the corporation.

Despite rules forbidding gifts from vendors, the report says the three executives received "meals, alcohol, paid entertainment (including theatre and concert tickets and sporting event admissions), rounds of golf and gifts on a frequent basis over four years from the broker.''

The report said executives racked up unjustified expenses including a return trip limousine ride from Lacombe to Edmonton for the president to attend the company Christmas party.

There was $5,108 for a dinner for the executives in Tokyo and $19,144 paid to a consultant in return for a share of a luxury suite at Edmonton Oilers hockey games.

The audit also found procurement rules weren't followed and that the broker was paid almost $300,000 more than the official agreed-upon price.

But the truth is that the NDP government was anxious to sack the Tory hacks.