NEWS

B.C. natural gas company wants fraud probe expunged

09/08/2012 06:10 EDT | Updated 11/08/2012 05:12 EST
A natural gas wholesaler is trying to block the findings of a B.C. Utilities Commission fraud investigation.

Earlier this year, police uncovered more than two dozen fake Active Energy natural gas contracts at small businesses, from flower shops to funeral homes, throughout the province.

Ontario-based Active Energy buys bulk gas then resells it to customers in four provinces: B.C., Quebec, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

The B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) paid for an investigation, but Active Energy has applied to have it expunged, meaning it will never be released to the public.

Kathy Simon says a representative forged her signature after she declined to sign a natural gas contract at her downtown Cranbrook store.

"My understanding is these young guys were working on commission and it was just as easy to forge some signatures and get the money and run," she told CBC News.

"I believe this involves a lot of businesses across B.C."

Simon was alerted to the issue when her gas bill spiked from $50 to $400.

She says she is frustrated, but not surprised the company is seeking to have the investigation expunged.

"Maybe we need something as big as Bernie Madoff to actually get some action here," she said.

BCUC commissioners will decide if the investigation is released to the public.

Active Energy officials could not be reached for a comment.

Police in the East Kootenay are also conducting their own investigation into Active Energy.

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