The Ontario Public Service Staff Union has sought a courtroom order to compel a Toronto lawyer to show over paperwork related to a forensic audit of the union’s funds.
The persevering with audit has to this point resulted in accusations of economic misappropriation towards OPSEU’s former president, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, former vice-president and treasurer Eddy Almeida and one other former government, Maurice Gabay. A lawsuit filed by OPSEU final month alleged that the three males “unlawfully” took nearly $6-million in union funds.
Mr. Thomas has known as the allegations “bogus.” Mr. Almeida and Mr. Gabay haven’t responded to the allegations.
The courtroom order is the most recent authorized step OPSEU’s new management has taken because it probes the state of union’s funds and the way union funds have been used throughout Mr. Thomas’s 15-year tenure.
OPSEU alleges that lawyer Mark Mendl, who used to supply authorized providers to the union, refused a number of requests over the previous yr to supply the union with sure paperwork, together with the union’s personal shopper file.
The union claims that it is going to be unable to get a full image of its personal funds and full a third-party forensic audit correctly with out the paperwork that Mr. Mendl allegedly possesses.
On Feb. 8, OPSEU filed an software in an Ontario courtroom ordering Mr. Mendl and his agency, Mark Mendl Skilled Legislation Corp., to ship OPSEU’s personal shopper file to the union which accommodates, amongst different paperwork, funds Mr. Mendl might need acquired from the union.
When reached by The Globe and Mail by cellphone on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Mendl mentioned he had no touch upon the persevering with authorized matter.
Mr. Mendl was employed on retainer by the union in 2017, when Mr. Thomas was union president, and dealt primarily with management-side labour and employment issues, the courtroom software said.
In April, 2022, after Mr. Thomas retired, JP Hornick and Laurie Nancekivell have been elected to guide the union as president and as vice-president and treasurer, respectively, and so they ordered a third-party forensic audit into the union’s funds. Among the many issues the brand new management had, in accordance with the courtroom paperwork, have been the authorized providers offered by Mr. Mendl, together with the motion of union funds via Mr. Mendl’s belief account.
From December, 2021, to April, 2022, roughly $3.2-million of union funds have been transferred to a belief account registered to Mr. Mendl’s regulation company, the courtroom paperwork said. The cash was not associated to the retainer funds that Mr. Mendl acquired for his providers and couldn’t be clearly defined or supported by documentation, OPSEU alleged.
Between Might, 2022, and June, 2022, the union, via its common counsel, Eric O’Brien, repeatedly requested that Mr. Mendl present the union with an inventory of recordsdata of issues by which he acted for the union, in addition to an in depth description of the providers he offered and the funds he acquired for them. OPSEU didn’t obtain the knowledge, the paperwork said.
Mr. Mendl’s providers have been subsequently terminated by Ms. Hornick and Ms. Nancekivell in July, 2022, and the authorized recordsdata he was dealing with have been transferred to a brand new regulation agency the union had employed to supervise the forensic audit, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP. Once more, between December, 2022, and February, 2023, OPSEU, via its legal professionals, repeatedly requested Mr. Mendl to ship sure monetary data and paperwork associated to the belief funds.
Mr. Mendl reassured OPSEU by way of e-mail that the paperwork had been despatched by common mail, however the union claims that as of Feb. 8, that they had nonetheless not acquired them. An Ontario decide has given Mr. Mendl till March 10 to answer the courtroom order towards him or hand over the paperwork.
Since Ms. Hornick and Ms. Nancekivell took cost of OPSEU final spring, they’ve instituted a collection of measures geared toward enhancing monetary accountability and altering the tradition of the union towards one they are saying emphasizes collaboration and accountability. An e-mail from management despatched to OPSEU’s 300-odd workers late final month said that the union has begun tightening and enhancing monetary controls associated to funds approvals.
OPSEU is searching for $6-million in damages from Mr. Thomas, Mr. Almeida and Mr. Gabay for the alleged monetary misappropriation of union funds. The union has additionally accused Mr. Thomas of transferring a number of union-owned autos to himself and relations, in addition to improperly utilizing cash from the union’s strike fund.