Former Winnipeg City CAO attorney Phil Sheegl is filing a court order to interrogate RCMP investigators on a lawsuit against his client over the construction of police headquarters in downtown Winnipeg.
RCMP attorneys argued that the application should be dismissed, in part because they say it is not clear what information Sheegl's attorney wants and because it is irrelevant to the ongoing litigation.
The city is suing Sheegl, Caspian Construction, and several others for alleged fraud and conspiracy that the city said has resulted in financial losses.
During a court appearance last week, Sheegl's attorney, Robert Tapper, told Glenn Joyal, Chief Justice of the Bank of Manitoba, that he would like access to the RCMP members who were involved in the investigation into the downtown headquarters.
"Justice is at stake," said Tapper in court on October 6th. “The reality is that my client has been classified as a criminal. That's out there and we know it's not true. "
The RCMP investigated the construction project for five years and no criminal charges were brought.
In his motion to investigate the two RCMP members, Tapper also wants the Mounties to produce any documents, notebooks, and recordings of interviews they conducted with three people.
"There is reason to believe that Sergeant Breanne Chanel and Constable Theoret have information relevant and material to resolve the issues before this Honorable Tribunal and the charges against the Sheegl defendants," said Tapper in his motion. "The RCMP has not brought charges against the Sheegl Defendants on the allegations and grounds for belief set out in the June 9, 2016 ITO."
According to court records, Sgt. Chanel swore a piece of information to receive a construction contract in June 2016, stating that she had reasonable grounds to believe that Sheegl had committed a breach of trust in connection with the duties of his office. She cited a payment of $ 200,000 Sheegl received from Caspian owner Armik Babakhanians through company-controlled companies.
Tapper argues that the city's allegations against its client are largely based on this ITO.
In the motion, Tapper states that it was a real estate transaction, not a bribe – something he said is stated in an affidavit from Sgt.Chanel regarding an ITO dated July 17, 2017.
“That statement is critical to this proposal. Sergeant Breanne Chanel admits no bribe was paid, ”said Tapper in a September 21 letter of the application.
Tapper's motion states that it cannot obtain the information from anyone else involved in the case who is eligible to be investigated as part of the normal discovery process. He argues that his questions to the RCMP are "not just a fishing expedition".
"It is extremely important to Sheegl's defense of himself and his companies that the RCMP officers are investigated," said Tapper in the letter.
Lawyers for the RCMP argued that the application should be dismissed and stated in court documents that the information Tapper requested could be obtained from others named in the lawsuit.
"The letter from the moving parties appears to be devoted to examining the Arizona transaction with Armik Babakhanians and essentially whether Sheegl accepted a 'bribe' from him," said attorneys Scott Farlinger and David Grohmueller, representing the Attorney General of Canada and RCMP in court documents in response to Tapper's request. “Babakhanians can be found by Sheegl and has direct knowledge of the transaction. The question should be directed to him. "
"Sheegl is aware of the legitimacy of his Arizona transaction and whether he was bribed. He can testify to these facts himself in court."
In court documents, the RCMP's attorneys state that they asked Tapper to identify the information they wanted and put questions to the investigators.
"To the extent that the RCMP understands what it is looking for, it has tried to provide responsive information," said Farlinger and Grohmueller.
None of the allegations in the city's lawsuit have been considered in court.
No decision was made on the application. The two sides agreed to discuss the matter further. The motion has been postponed and is expected to come back to court before November 15.