NEWS

Councillor’s brother claims Mema repaid city $500 per paycheque

Social media posts put councillor in leak spotlight again despite warnings of risks to taxpayers. Mema -- still not CPA member -- emails finance associates
Robert Fuller
Robert Fuller
Nanaimo chief financial officer Victor Mema has been paying back personal expenses on his city credit card through $500 payroll deductions, the brother of a city councillor has claimed.

Robert Fuller, brother of controversial councillor Gord Fuller, published the highly specific information in comments on Facebook after saying that he had discussed Mr. Mema’s situation with his brother.

He claims that Mr. Mema asked that he be allowed to repay the personal expenses over time by having the “monies deducted from his cheques.”

The councillor’s brother claims this was not a loan, even though the city paid Mr. Mema’s credit card balance in full and then allowed him to repay the city interest free through payroll deductions.

The Canada Revenue Agency defines a loan as any “indebtedness such as the unpaid purchase price of goods or services” that an employee repays over time.

Robert Fuller comment
A comment by Robert Fuller on Facebook
Robert Fuller disclosed that he had discussed Mr. Mema with his brother on March 10
Robert Fuller disclosed that he had discussed Mr. Mema with his brother in this March 10 Facebook comment

Sources have told News Nanaimo that Mr. Mema spent thousands on personal vacation expenses and a car service in breach of the city’s purchasing card policies and the card agreement.

The loan repayment arrangement was approved by city manager Tracy Samra, they said.

Mr. Mema was suspended with pay after an in-camera meeting on March 1 pending an investigation into what the city has described as “an allegation of significant concern.”

Gord Fuller dodges questions

The disclosures on Facebook by Cllr. Fuller’s brother are significant because they put the councillor in the spotlight for possibly breaching council confidentiality.

Councillors are prohibited by law from divulging information considered at in-camera meetings. The city’s lawyers have warned council that divulging information about the ongoing investigations into Mr. Mema or Ms. Samra could compromise the city and its taxpayers’ financial interests.

None of the information News Nanaimo has published about Mr. Mema’s personal spending on the city’s purchase card has come from city councillors.

Cllr. Fuller would not directly answer if he had given his brother information about Mr. Mema. The questions were emailed to him three times.

Gord Fuller
Gord Fuller

At first he responded with only a link to an old news release on the city’s staff expenses policies.

In a second response he said: “If I don’t say anything ya gonna make it up :). ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Cllr. Fuller has previously admitted to leaking two confidential legal letters that he obtained at an in-camera meeting. The letters were subsequently published on Facebook.

BC’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has confirmed to News Nanaimo that Cllr. Fuller is a subject of ongoing inquiries into leaks at the city.

Cllr. Fuller is a member of the five-man majority that controls council and has never been disciplined for breaching council confidences despite his admissions.

This is in contrast to their censure of Diane Brennan on false allegations of breaching confidentiality.

Mema still not registered as CPA

In other developments, it has been confirmed that Nick Mloyi, a former colleague of Mr. Mema from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) in Fort McMurray, Alta., is no longer with the city. His position was said to be temporary.

It was also confirmed that another former RMWB colleague who Mr. Mema was in the process of hiring prior to his suspension will no longer be joining the city.

The finance department is currently headed by Laura Mercer, a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) who has been with the city for 16 years.

According to the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC, Mr. Mema is still not registered to use the CPA designation in this province.

Victor Mema
Victor Mema: “I cannot share much at this point”

CPABC’s vice president of ethics Edward Tanaka has previously said it takes about “three to five weeks” to process a membership application, adding that his organization does not comment on whether or not someone has applied to become a member.

It has been eight weeks since News Nanaimo first disclosed that the city’s top financial executive was not permitted to use the CPA designation in BC.

Mr. Mema has refused all media requests for comment.

However, in an email message to government finance associates, a copy of which was provided to News Nanaimo this week, he said: “I cannot share much at this point until I am clear what the issues are. My counsel is working through that with the city.

“I do understand that some media outlets are reaching out for comment to my associates and affiliates at this time. My counsel has advised that the best course of action is not to engage with the media at this point.”

He ended the email saying he will “provide updates periodically as the development evolves.”

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  • This is just another example of Gord Fuller not being fit to serve on council. As a paid up member of the Floundering Five, he should be sued by city taxpayers for a full refund of his entire salary as a councilor. That might make him sit up and think. Then again, if you smoke marijuana every day for 40 years, it will alter your perception of truth and fiction.

  • Obviously, Fuller is an incompetent bumbler who thinks he can do no wrong. The voters will throw this idiot out on his ass in October. I hope all the candidates for the upcoming election will commit to a thorough investigation with suitable consequences for wrongdoings by these fumbling fools. But then he probably takes his advice from that other “genius” on council who says he put all of his assets in his spouses name so anyone who sues him would not be able to seize anything. Now there’s a guy with high morals that we can all be thankful he is chairman of the finance committee.

    • If one does that, (transfers legal title) one has to be pretty confident in one’s sunny relationship with one’ s wife.

  • thanks dominic! robert fuller has been the conduit for a number of leaks, some unsubstantiated, but it looks like with this one – there is a clear line directly back to his brother… this is one more dynamic that many nanaimo folks will be happy to not have to witness anymore – i hope!

  • Yet more evidence that since the ‘fab 5’ took over council, hamstrung the mayor and councillors not onside with them, installed Samra, and bungled their power grab that the rot at city hall has spread almost unchecked. We can be sure that outside of the 5 themselves and some staff, there are certain people smart enough not to post it to social media but dumb enough to give support to the F5 power play who know “where the bodies are buried” as the metaphor goes. In due time they will be called upon by investigators to spill the sordid secrets that make up this shameful chapter in Nanaimo’s political history. Whited sepulchres. Ought to be run out of town on a rail.

    • For those like me who had to look it up, a “whited sepulchre” is a Biblical reference to a hypocrite. Matthew 23:27,

  • According to the Supreme Court of Canada, fraud is complete when “there is the taking of a risk there was no right to take which would cause detriment or prejudice to another”. The offence is committed when you put yourself in a position to obtain the money. (Olan, 1978). And anyone who assists you in putting the victims at risk is a party to the offence. You can’t just start a payment plan and all is forgiven!
    A mere breach of privacy, though bad in itself, pales beside the enormity of the larger alleged offences. I simiply don’t understand why greed and dishonesty are so energetically defended. I just don’t get it.

    • And I just don’t understand why it takes so long to determine that a Corporate CC has been used improperly. While all this fumbling and internal (read under the rug sweeping) investigations go on two of the highest paid players stay at home and still collect their pay. This will bite someone including Fuller who thinks it is all a game of thuggery. But then I hear he invites people to “Bite Me”.

  • If a repayment schedule is established, then it become a loan. That is something that is not acceptable at the government level. Management staff cannot make loans of tax money to fellow management staff. Just think about what that could balloon to.

    • A “loan” is probably how Mema and Samra would like to think of it, or at least have us think of it. And since it is quite correct that managers can’t “loan” tax money to other staff (and councillors can’t allow it either) it does balloon into something else.

      • A Union member in dire financial straits “borrowed” a small amount of money from an office fund with every intention of paying it back. This person was fired immediately – just like Mema should be.

  • Why are Samra and Mema still on the payroll? The longer ‘the process’ drags on, the longer these two are being paid big salaries! Please get on with it!.

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