A forensic audit of BC Housing has found a significant conflict of interest involving the then-CEO and the CEO of a non-profit.
The audit focused on former BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay and Atira Women’s Resource Society CEO Janice Abbott’s relationship.
The two are married and the audit found Ramsay repeatedly interfered with decision-making regarding Atira.
One instance involved the purchasing of the Hollywood Motel in Surrey.
According to the report, the purchase price was three times the appraised value, but BC Housing provided funding to Atira to purchase the motel.
The audit had access to texts from Ramsay that showed his involvement in making sure Atira was chosen.
In one message, Ramsey told an executive committee member that the project “would be a good one for Atira” and directed them to offer it to them.
Another message to an executive committee member read “…just so long as Atira is the lead.”
The investigation found no evidence of public funds being dispersed outside of their intended purpose.
However, the auditors said they were lacking information to ensure this was the case.
There was evidence of text messages being deleted and meeting minutes being altered.
The banking records of Atira were not made available and the report did not cover Atira’s subsidiaries, Atira Property Management Inc., Atira Development Society or the Community Impact RealEstate Society.
The province will be conducting a review of Atira, which will include inspections of financial transactions and physical inspections of all Atira buildings.
This will begin tomorrow.
Last summer, Ramsay resigned as CEO of BC Housing, but Premier David Eby told the legislature today that he went to the board and encouraged them to fire Ramsay.
The audit comes with a list of 20 recommendations to improve financial oversight and prevent future conflicts of interest.
“We expect the rules to be followed. There must be strong safeguards in place to preserve the public’s trust,” said Eby in a release.
“In 2021, I ordered a review into concerns at BC Housing, which ultimately led to today’s findings. We are working with the new leadership at BC Housing to implement all 20 of the report’s recommendations to ensure that BC Housing operates effectively as we deliver housing for people.”
Some of the recommendations include creating an anonymous employee whistleblower hotline, putting a government representative on the board and changing how budget and financial reviews of housing providers are completed.
The rest of the recommendations and the full audit can be found using the link below.
MORE: Investigation of BC Housing (B.C. government)
– with files from Josiah Spyker, My East Kootenay Now staff