'I'll probably be put on disciplinary action.'
NBCC acting boss facing fraud and theft charges
The acting boss of the trouble-ridden Nunavut Business Credit Corp. is in some hot water of his own.
Allan McDowell, who was recently named acting chief executive officer of the NBCC until the Nunavut government can find a permanent CEO, faces two counts of fraud and two counts of theft under $5,000.
The charges allege the theft of cheques and a laptop computer from Eskimo Point Lumber and Supply in Arviat in July 2005.
The charges were filed in March 2006. McDowell pleaded not guilty to the charges in November 2006, and the case is set for trial Jan. 28 in Arviat.
In a telephone interview, McDowell did not want to discuss the circumstances surrounding the charges.
"They're not true. They're baseless and that'll be shown in court," he said, adding he's been trying to speed up the process to get a trial without success.
"I've been trying to get this settled for a year and a half since I found out about it," McDowell said.
In 2005, McDowell worked for Eskimo Point Lumber for four months in the spring of 2005.
McDowell said he can't recall if he was asked about any criminal charges before he was hired as the NBCC's comptroller in April 2006.
He later became the organization's acting CEO after another acting CEO, Steve Hannah, recently left the job. The NBCC has been without a permanent CEO since the departure of Mel Orecklin in December 2006.
"I assume that when a background check is done and references, something like that should be caught," said Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo.
"Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but maybe they should have waited?"
McDowell said he's concerned the charges will undermine his efforts to help fix the troubled corporation in the wake of a damning report from Sheila Fraser, Canada's Auditor General, which revealed widespread administrative and financial mismanagement.
"Even though I'm the same guy I was two weeks ago, two months ago and two years ago, now the perception will be the work that I've done here to fix everything at NBCC will be thrown out and I'll probably be put on disciplinary action," McDowell said.
With files from Jim Bell