NEWS

Mike Duffy trial: Defence to cross-examine Senate official on expenses

04/14/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 06/21/2015 12:59 EDT
Mike Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, will get his chance today to cross-examine a Senate human resources official, whose testimony on Monday was used by the Crown to build its case that the suspended senator charged taxpayers for non-Senate business.

Sonia Makhlouf, whose job it is to assess Senate contracts and ensure the services being billed pertain to parliamentary business, was questioned by Crown prosecutor Jason Neubauer on Monday, the beginning of the second week of the trial at the provincial courthouse in Ottawa.

​Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust related to expenses he claimed as a senator.

On Monday, Neubauer reviewed with Makhlouf Duffy's controversial $65,000 worth of contracts with his friend Gerald Donohue. 

According to the terms of the Senate contracts, Donohue was being employed to provide consulting and editorial services. However, RCMP have said that Donohue did "little or no apparent work" for the $65,000. The Crown is attempting to show that payments earmarked for those contracts were instead used by Duffy to expense non-Senate business. ​

Neubauer asked Makhlouf about a number of services — payments for a makeup artist, a personal trainer, an enlarged picture of family members and Barbara Bush — and whether Senate contracts would be awarded based on those services.

No, she said, because none of those services would be considered parliamentary work. 

The Crown entered into evidence invoices from Jiffy Photo and Print addressed to Mike Duffy, "c/o Gerald Donohue Maple Ridge Media," which showed costs for picture enhancements, including those for photos of Bush and Duffy's daughter and grandson, as well as other personal pictures. Meanwhile, cheques entered into evidence appear to show Donohue's companies paying for these expenses.

The Crown has contended that the contracts with Donohue were effectively a clearinghouse for Duffy to hand out money "as he saw fit," and a "reserve pool over which there was no possibility of financial oversight."

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