Quebec issues ‘final statement’ on finances

Published February 1, 2008

No irregularities were found and no write-offs were made in connection with the accounting of the diocese of Quebec’s Church Society funds, according to the president of its central board, Archbishop Bruce Stavert, who issued what was described as a “final statement” on the matter. The diocese had been in turmoil since it launched an investigation into what it called “significant accounting irregularities” that were discovered in the wake of the resignation of its treasurer.

“Central board expects that the present release will not be fully satisfying to some members of the Church Society, but wishes to stress that it cannot … breach its fiduciary duties,” wrote Archbishop Stavert. “The fact that some transactions thought to be irregular were found, on investigation, not to be so – that no write-offs took place, that reimbursements of some advances have already been received and that further recoverable sums have been properly secured – is the only statement of detail that central board can make on the subject.”

Last October, a special meeting of the Society passed a motion asking Archbishop Stavert to provide more details of the investigation, after he issued a brief statement that questions regarding the audit of the Society’s books were “fully resolved,” with the collaboration of Rev. Rodney Clark, who had served as treasurer of the diocese and the Society. Three members of the Society,. contacted by the Anglican Journal, declined to comment on the archbishop’s statment.

Archbishop Stavert said that in December 2006, the board had commissioned an external confidential report to investigate the nature and scope of what were seen as irregularities.

“One very important finding of that report was that no monies belonging to the synod of the diocese of Quebec or to the Lord Bishop … were implicated in any of the transactions that had been thought irregular, nor were any funds held in trust by the Church Society,” he said. “Such transactions had all been made from the Church Society’s own funds and were of two kinds: loans or payroll advances.” (Archbishop Stavert did not respond to a request from the Journal for more information about the nature and amount of the loans and other transactions.)

He added that for a significant number of transactions, there was no irregularity involved. “Investigation showed that proper reimbursement from the employer concerned had already taken place,” he wrote.

The statement said that all loans were “thought to be irregular either because of lack of proper authorization or lack of adequate security.” The board “pursued the repayment, or at least the securing, of the most significant of these loans as soon as it became aware of them in October 2006,” it added. “As for payroll advances, the problems were either inadequate documentation as to what body was using the Society as payroll agent – and therefore determining who was to reimburse the Society – or the trustworthiness of the identifiable employer to reimburse the Society.”

Archbishop Stavert said the board was not able to respond to the special Society meeting’s request for “monetary details as fully as some members of the society might wish” because “amounts disbursed as salary payments where Church Society is an agent, as well as terms of loans to qualified individuals where Church Society is the lender, are not matters for public disclosure.” But he added that they could be released to the board as long as they are kept confidential; the board can also obtain details about the success of recovering money that was advanced or loaned.


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