Trudeau Foundation board pushed back on audit of alleged China-linked donation: ex-CEO – National
The former CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation told a congressional committee on Friday that he had resigned from the position earlier this month after the trust of the organization’s board of directors collapsed.
Pascal Fournier said tensions arose after he called for an independent forensic audit of donations from Chinese businessmen, when he claimed that some members of the board would decline such an investigation. received a backlash from
In a statement released after Fournier’s testimony, the Foundation said it strongly contested the events she described and was looking for an opportunity to schedule an independent testimony in response.
Fournier and eight other board members announced their resignations in a public statement on April 11, 2016 and 2017 Chinese billionaire Zhang Bin and another Chinese businessman Niu Gensheng. Citing the recent politicization of a total of $140,000 in donations from
The foundation set up an emergency committee in February after The Globe and Mail, citing unnamed sources, reported that the donor had ties to the Chinese government.
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Fournier told the House Ethics Committee on Friday that the report prompted her to review emails from before her term as CEO.
She said she discovered that the China Cultural Industry Association has been in contact with foundation employees about omitting information on donation tax receipts.
Fournier said he asked accountants and lawyers to find out more after discovering two different tax revenues related to the same money.
And she said she would like any board members involved in the organization’s transactions at the time of the donation to step down from the process.
“Others were saying, ‘Drop yourself.’ We wanted an independent committee and that was the crux of the tension,” Fournier said.
The Canadian Press reported earlier this month that the Chinese Cultural Industry Association’s website said it was established with state approval in support of the “general leadership” of the Communist Party of China. Zhang Bin becomes president.
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However, The Globe and Mail had reported that another company called Millennium Golden Eagle International (Canada) was listed as a donor on the receipt.
According to China Cultural Industry Association, Millennium Golden Eagle International is one of its board members and was established with the approval of China’s Ministry of Culture. Zhang is listed as Chairman of Millennium Golden Eagle International in registries of several privately owned Chinese companies.
The foundation, which offers scholarships and mentoring programs, raised serious issues with Fournier’s comments in a statement released on Friday.
“We strongly disagree with several statements made during this testimony,” said Edward Johnson, one of the foundation’s founding members, on behalf of the interim board.
Johnson said the foundation disputes some facts and interpretations by Fournier, who declined to provide further details.
He said the foundation has been in contact with the committee to set its own testimony date, and they “look forward to this opportunity to amend some of the statements and allegations made to date.” Stated.
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After Fournier’s resignation, the foundation asked the Federal Auditor General to investigate the donation.
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However, the General Accounting Office rejected the request, saying it was outside its mandate to audit private donations and commercial transactions.
The donation to the foundation, named after the father of the current Prime Minister, came in parallel with a donation of $750,000 to the University of Montreal.
The Globe and Mail cited an unnamed source who claimed the Chinese government coordinated the donation in hopes of influencing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
For about a decade, the prime minister has repeatedly said he has nothing to do with the foundation.
A subsequent report in the Quebec-based newspaper Le Devoir suggested the donor intended to give all the money to the university, with a businessman donating $800,000 to the University of Toronto in 2013. It has also been pointed out that
The House of Representatives Ethics Committee has been trying to get to the bottom of the matter as part of a broader study of foreign interference, amid accusations that Beijing interfered in the past two federal elections.
On Tuesday, the committee plans to hear from Morris Rosenberg, the foundation’s former CEO who was Fournier’s predecessor.
Rosenberg also authored a report outlining senior officials’ efforts against foreign interference in the 2021 elections.
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He said on Friday he would continue to welcome an independent inquiry into foreign interference.Former governor-general David Johnston, who has been appointed to assess the government’s response to the issue, said by late May that an inquiry would be necessary. I have a duty to tell the government what to do.
On Wednesday, the commission expects to hear from the Prime Minister’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, who volunteered to testify.
Fournier said he was a member of the foundation’s board of directors when the donation in question was made.
“It’s no secret to anyone that my brother has been very involved with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation for many years and I will answer any questions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in New York on Friday. rice field. city.
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