Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal must divulge to the federal ethics commissioner – and the public – who lent him millions of dollars to feed a rampant gambling habit, opposition critics said Tuesday.
Those kind of huge debts raise a “massive, massive red flag” for an elected official, said New Democrat Charlie Angus, the party’s ethics point person. Suggesting the matter is closed because the money has been repaid is not good enough, both he and Conservative ethics critic Peter Kent argued.
“Suddenly he says ‘The money’s all paid off, I’m golden, I’m ready to go back to work.’ How does that happen?” Angus said in an interview. “We need to know: Did he borrow all this money from a rich uncle, or were there strings attached? Because that could seriously undermine his work as a parliamentarian.”
Kent said Grewal must “absolutely” reveal details of the payments he received.
“If he is in fact innocent of everything, as he claims, and if in fact the money was borrowed only from relatives and has been repaid legitimately – not from questionable sources – then I think these questions need to be asked and answered,” he said.
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A spokesman for Grewal said late Tuesday that the MP is involved in a “full financial review” with the ethics commissioner, but did not elaborate on what that meant.
In a confessional video and statement last week, the member for Brampton East admitted that he had racked up “millions” of dollars in debts playing high-stakes blackjack.
He said he borrowed the money from friends and family, “everybody has been paid back,” all the transactions were transparent and traceable, and there was no “sinister” activity.
But Grewal said nothing more about who, exactly, provided him with such large loans, what reasons he gave them initially for needing the money or how he promised to repay them.
Asked earlier this week to reveal the sources of the payments, Grewal spokesman Joel Etienne told the National Post that “this is a private and personal family financial matter now.”
“Mr. Grewal informs that it is common in the Punjabi culture to lend/borrow money from friends and family when in need,” said Etienne by email. “Mr. Grewal’s relatives bailed him out and everyone has been repaid.”
Although the MP initially announced he would resign his seat, he said Friday he is leaving the Liberal caucus but reconsidering whether to actually quit the Commons.
All members are required under the House’s conflict of interest code to divulge their assets, liabilities and sources of income and any change in that information within 60 days, said Jocelyne Brisebois, a spokesman for the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
But she said she cannot indicate if Grewal has done so recently. And despite the code’s requirements, there is no penalty …read more
Source:: Nationalpost – News