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RCMP investigating possible fraud at Burnaby housing co-op

Last Updated Mar 16, 2017 at 11:31 pm PDT

(Courtesy Googlemaps)

Executive accused of taking money from the housing board

Co-op Federation of BC says fraud at co-ops are rare because of controls in place for board of directors

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – RCMP confirm they are investigating a possible case of fraud at the Halston Hills Co-op in Burnaby. The accusation is being levelled at a member of its board of directors.

The board of directors are tenants who’ve been elected by tenants to assume executive positions. They’re in charge of paying for expenses from the rents they’ve collected.

Thom Armstrong is the executive director of the Co-op Federation of BC and says checks and balances are in place to prevent money from disappearing.

“Typically, you need one person on the executive to request the payment or authorize the expense. The other person checks the invoice against the requisition. All cheques in the co-ops that I know need two signatures.”

He points out co-op accounts are subjected to yearly audits and tenants themselves are invited to budget meetings once a year.

The activities of most co-ops are overseen by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and as such Armstrong says members with complaints or suspicions about how the board is run can take them to the CMHC.

“In all but the most exceptional circumstances that combination of controls is enough to limit or even eliminate the possibility of impropriety,” he says.

Plus he notes because board members are neighbours, shareholders and essentially business partners, it’s rare for them to be tempted to defraud the others.

It’s not known when the RCMP investigation will be complete, but a forensic audit could take years. A new board of directors has been put place at the co-op since the allegations came to light.