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Updated: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 17:53:01 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Election agency searches business of Dean Del Mastro's cousin



Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro in the House of Commons. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro in the House of Commons. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Elections Canada investigators in October searched Deltro Electric, the business belonging to the cousin of Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro, over allegations of wrongful contributions to Del Mastro's election campaign.

A warrant filed in Ottawa court in October authorized Elections Canada investigators to search the business of David Del Mastro over allegations he paid employees to contribute to his cousin's 2008 campaign.

The search was authorized for Oct. 9, 2013, to gather financial records and other evidence related to allegations David Del Mastro gave $50 to 22 people and reimbursed them for $1,000 contributions to his cousin's election campaign, according to the search warrant.

Dean Del Mastro, who resigned from the Conservative caucus after being charged with election spending breaches in the same campaign, is not the subject of the warrant.

He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said he ran a clean campaign. 

Del Mastro said he stands by previous comments that he ran a clean campaign.

"My comments are as true today as when I said them before. All donations were received in the proper form, they were properly recorded, properly reported, and properly receipted. We have done everything we were supposed to," Del Mastro said in an email to Evan Solomon, host of CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

Del Mastro wouldn't comment on the raid or on his cousin. 

David Del Mastro denies allegations

David Del Mastro's lawyer said his client "denies participating in any breaches of the Elections Act."

"Given the relatively small amounts of monies involved in the investigation, it is troubling that Elections Canada continues to spend significant taxpayer resources in 2014 investigating an election financing matter from 2008,” Scott Fenton said in an email to CBC News.

The court documents were supposed to have been publicly available in November, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported, but "procedural complications" blocked the release. The newspaper's lawyer secured the release of the documents on Monday.

None of the allegations contained in the court documents, including an information to obtain (ITO) a search warrant, have been tested in court. No charges have been laid in connection with the investigation into the alleged contributions.

But a request to seal the documents for four months, until Feb. 9, provides a peek inside the investigation.

"This [four-month sealing order] should provide the investigators sufficient time to review the items seized for evidence [to] be inspected and documented, and charges be laid," Elections Canada investigator Ron Lamothe wrote.

"There are names of persons suspected of committing offences under the Elections Act, but have not yet been charged. They include the company Deltro Electric Ltd., David Armand Del Mastro, [redacted], and those names listed under paragraph 25 of this document," he wrote, referring to the list of 22 people who made contributions that are now being probed.

"I believe that [redacted] identity should not be disclosed in fear of potentially [sic] intimidation of this witness by those who may be charged," Lamothe wrote in the affidavit.

'Knowingly' broke limit

Lamothe writes in the documents that he is investigating whether David Del Mastro paid 22 people, including employees of Deltro Electric, $50 to donate to Dean Del Mastro's 2008 election campaign.

Those who made a $1,000 federal political donation were also eligible for a $558 refund on their federal income taxes.

David Del Mastro is alleged to have funded those $22,000 in donations. It is illegal under the Canada Elections Act for one person to contribute more than the maximum legal amount to a candidate, which at the time was $1,100. It is also illegal to hide the source of a contribution.

The spending limit for Peterborough in 2008 was $92,566.79.

Lamothe says in the documents that he believes Deltro Electric and David Del Mastro "did knowingly circumvent, or attempt to circumvent," the law prohibiting contributions over the limit.

"I believe ... that Deltro Electric Ltd., David Del Mastro and/or his staff, encouraged employees or former employees to make donations that would be reimbursed by [Deltro] Electric and to enlist friends or family to make similar donations," Lamothe wrote in the affidavit filed in court.

Following an October 2012 production order, Deltro Electric's bank turned over information from two business accounts held by the company. Lamothe writes in the newest affidavit that he saw 22 people were issued cheques for $1,050 from Deltro.

Eight of them contributed $1,000 to Dean Del Mastro's 2008 campaign and 14 contributed $1,000 to the Peterborough Conservative Electoral District Association.

Those contributors made up nearly half the list of contributors to Del Mastro's 2008 campaign: Elections Canada records show 19 people donated $200 or more.

'I've done nothing wrong'

One of the people interviewed for the probe suggested an alleged reason for the contributions, according to Lamothe's affidavit.

The person, whose name was redacted along with any pronouns that would reveal the sex, told investigators "that David Del Mastro owned another company ... Under Pressure Hyperbaric Inc."

David Del Mastro, the investigator alleges in the affidavit, said that "through his cousin he was going to get them to give him this contract so he'd have sole and 100 per cent of the ability to be treating the aboriginal people, so therefore was going to make his hyperbaric business very successful," Lamothe quoted the witness as saying.

Despite that claim, the witness said it didn't appear any contracts ever materialized.

Lamothe first became aware of the allegations after reports in the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia, and phoned David Del Mastro on Aug. 1, 2012, to ask to see his financial records and interview some staff, he says in the court records.

Del Mastro told him "I've done nothing wrong," and referred Lamothe to his lawyer, Lamothe writes in the documents. After an initial call from Fenton on Aug. 3, 2012, Lamothe writes that he called Fenton again on Oct. 19, and got a return call three days later saying Del Mastro would not co-operate with the investigation, provide a statement or allow access to company records or staff.

The names of the contributors are all blacked out in the court documents, which were supposed to be sealed until Feb. 9, 2014. Lamothe wrote in the application for the search warrant that the four-month sealing order would "provide sufficient time to review the items seized for evidence [to] be inspected and documented, and charges laid."

Dean Del Mastro is scheduled to enter a plea in May on the charge by Elections Canada that he overspent his 2008 campaign limit and tried to cover it up by reporting a $21,000 expense as $1,575. 

The agency also alleges he contributed too much money to his campaign – $21,000, nearly $19,000 over the individual candidate contribution limit.

His trial is scheduled to start the last week of June.

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