POLITICS

Mike Duffy Trial Resumes Aug. 11 With Nigel Wright Appearance

06/18/2015 11:32 EDT | Updated 06/18/2016 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - The Mike Duffy trial finished its second phase on Thursday and has adjourned to Aug. 11, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright is expected to testify.

The trial was originally scheduled to sit Friday, but it adjourned early.

In the closing hours of this stage, Duffy's lawyer Donald Bayne attempted to raise questions about the credibility of a forensic accountant who testified at his for three days this week.

Mark Grenon, a public servant, was contracted by the RCMP to review Duffy's finances, including the money trail associated with a $90,000 payment Wright gave the senator.

That money allowed Duffy to repay his disputed Senate expenses for housing and travel. It also became a matter of political controversy and prompted Wright to resign his post as Harper's closest adviser.

During Grenon's cross-examination Donald Bayne sought to undermine the accountant's credibility.

"Have you ever been retained by the defence in a criminal case?" Bayne asked Grenon, who told court he has been called to testify in other trials.

"Never been asked to, no," Grenon said. "I like to feel like my work that I've been doing is independent and impartial."

Bayne also pressed Grenon on his conclusion that there was a "continued amount of overspending" in the senator's account which had be financed by a line of credit that ballooned to $100,000 at one point in 2012.

"Banks are very careful about who they give credit to, right?" Bayne asked.

"Clearly what you call overspending, the bank didn't think Sen. Duffy was overspending in giving him these lines of credit and extending advances on mortgages."

"I don't know what the bank thought," Grenon replied. "They are in the business to lend money to make money so they are going to lend money to people who are creditworthy."

Justice Charles Vaillancourt, who is hearing the case without a jury, has yet to determine whether Grenon's testimony will be entered as fact.

One of the key aspects of Grenon's testimony centres on the $90,000 payment which the accountant traced from Wright's bank account to Duffy's lawyer and eventually into the senator's bank account.

The Receiver General of Canada subsequently received $90,172.24 from Duffy, Grenon told court.

Wright was investigated by the RCMP but was never charged.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges include fraud, bribery and breach of trust. The sole bribery charge relates to the $90,000 payment.

Grenon testified the source of the cheque could have been concealed with the advice of a forensic accountant, but he said he didn't think this was done "with the intent to hide."

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