10/19/2012 05:55 EDT | Updated 12/19/2012 05:12 EST

Audit probes $226,000 expenses by B.C. Justice Ministry bureaucrat

VICTORIA - More than $200,000 in expenses for a bureaucrat within the B.C. Justice Ministry are under review after a failure to produce expense receipts for over half of the bill.

Documents released under a freedom of information request say the unnamed bureaucrat was the subject of an internal review for spending $226,000, yet receipts couldn't be found for $118,000.

The forensic auditors focused on $165,000 in claims.

"Receipts for 118 out of 157 expense claims could not be located and thus were excluded from our examination," said the five-page document. "This represents $118,000 of the total $164,500 in claims, or 72 per cent."

The audit determined the bureaucrat spent $70,200 on rent in Vancouver, $23,200 for 17 international business trips, $7,100 for nine out of province trips, $64,500 for 100 trips between Victoria and Vancouver and $41,000 for in-province expenses.

The Finance Ministry's Investigation and Forensic Office of the Comptroller General found "significant control deficiencies" and recommended government ministries strive to ensure the travel and expense documents of its bureaucrats are obtained, reviewed and retained.

The Justice Ministry responded, saying it agreed with the findings and stated it will address the control deficiencies found in the audit.

"Ministries should ensure they retain supporting documentation for employee travel claims to ensure they are available for review," stated the audit.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond issued separate statements on Thursday evening and Friday.

Bond's Thursday statement said the audit revealed an unacceptable level of accountability and tracking and the Justice Ministry acknowledges proper documentation procedures were not followed.

Bond said her ministry has made it a priority to ensure procedures are strictly enforced and followed to keep this from happening again. The statement said the bureaucrat has retired from government.

"While this particular case is rare and unusual, the ministry has made it a priority, moving quickly to implement all of the audit report’s recommendations," said Bond's Friday statement.

Her statement said the audit found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Opposition New Democrat open government critic Doug Routley said the audit speaks volumes about the government's commitment to accountability.

"If this is how the Liberal government treats its pocketbook expenses, how can British Columbians trust they are managing the larger programs and services better," said Routley's statement.