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May 25, 2005
Adscam Cost $355 Million: Auditors

Forensic accountants scouring the finances of the Sponsorship Program have found an additional $100 million in losses, bringing the total scam's loss to $355 million, according to their latest testimony:

The total amount of money lost in the sponsorship scandal now appears to be $355 million -- $100 million more than was originally thought.

"If you didn't like the sponsorship program to begin with, you've now got about a hundred million more reasons to not like it," CTV's Jed Kahane said Tuesday.

The new figure of $355 million is from the forensic accounting firm, Kroll Lindquist Avey, which was hired by the Gomery commission to examine sponsorship spending between 1994 and 2004.

Of this, the accountants have identified $51 million that went into the pockets of the well-connected ad firms, such as Groupaction, whose officers have testified that significant portions of the money went back to the Liberal Party. The estimate of cash given by Jean Brault alone runs to $2.5 million. However, the report does not appear to take into consideration the Liberal featherbedding that also occurred, according to several witnesses at the Gomery inquiry. That practice of adding Liberal party activists to the payroll of compliant ad firms allowed the Liberals to fund party activities through the Sponsorship payments to these ad firms, outside the reach of campaign-finance regulations and traditional audits.

The Liberals have already put $750,000 into trust for repayment of the cash traceable by check, an amount suprisingly close to that found by the auditors. One suspects that their own internal audit found exactly how much they would be asked to repay, and not a penny more. Since cash and in-kind contributions may never be fully identified, the Liberals may well have won their gamble -- if they can explain the difference between the documented $750,000 they took in and the $355 million the Canadian taxpayers lost. So far, the taxpayers haven't really demanded that accountability from Martin and the Grits, and they may well win by relying on the lack of Canadian outrage at the vast difference.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 25, 2005 7:35 AM

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