P.A. resident accused of defrauding Waskesiu Wilderness Region over $100k

A Prince Albert man recently charged with fraud is accused of misdirecting over $100,000 from a Waskesiu region destination marketing organization.

According to a press release sent out Wednesday morning, the Waskesiu Wilderness Region Inc. (WWR), a destination marketing organization, became aware of anomalies while finalizing 2014/15 financial reports.

When a more in-depth internal review began, the organization found that unauthorized fund transfers had occurred, sparking the need for an extensive forensic audit. The “gargantuan” task took months and hundreds of man hours.

In their media release, the WWR alleges that during the forensic audit, transactions were discovered involving former board member George Wilson, his personal credit card expenditures, unauthorized payments and other fund transfers between WWR and “several other non-profit, volunteer organizations with which Mr. Wilson was involved.”

The WWR said over $100,000 was misdirected from the organization during the period reviewed.

The evidence was turned over to the Waskesiu detachment of the RCMP, and other non-profit organizations associated with Wilson were notified. Some of the organizations were within the jurisdiction of the City of Prince Albert, and the Prince Albert Police Service became involved, WWR said. Wilson was charged criminally earlier this month.

The Prince Albert Police said the case is an RCMP file and the extent of the force’s involvement was executing the arrest warrant in the city on the RCMP’s behalf.

WWR continues to work with police and other affected organizations.

“WWR is a member-driven funding model, so trust is of the utmost importance,” the organization said in the media release.

“Increased security controls have been implemented. Destination marketing fees collected from members are secure. Since Mr. Wilson’s departure, the WWR has been able to deliver the value to its members that they should have been getting all along, finishing 2017 with a more than 10 per cent increase in membership and a modest operating surplus.”

A source indicated Wilson may have been involved with one of the city’s community clubs.

There was little Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne could say about the case. “Our criminal investigation is ongoing,” he said.

Wilson is a former employee of the Waskesiu Chamber of Commerce. Upon news of his arrest coming out on Jan. 10, the chamber provided a brief statement to the Daily Herald.

The chamber board has been and will continue to work with the Waskesiu Wilderness Region and the RCMP’s investigation,” they said.

None of the accusations against Wilson have been proven in court. He is due in Montreal Lake court on Feb. 15.