A former high-ranking senior manager is facing a disciplinary hearing with the organization representing accountants in Alberta over accusations of professional misconduct and misuse of public funds while he was employed with the City of Nanaimo.
The Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta’s discipline tribunal will hold a hearing into allegations of “unprofessional conduct” by Victor Mema, the city’s former chief financial officer for nearly two years, according to a notice on the CPA Alberta website.
A two-day hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 4-5 in Edmonton.
CPA Alberta’s complaints inquiry committee claims that Mema “failed to act with integrity and due care” as the City of Nanaimo’s chief financial officer by making $14,150 in “unauthorized personal expenses” with his city-issued purchase card, approving “some of his own unauthorized personal expenses” for reimbursement, failing to “promptly” repay the City of Nanaimo and approving “unauthorized expenses” incurred by the city’s chief financial officer at the time, including legal expenses “in excess of council-approved amounts.”
Furthermore, the committee claims Mema made at least $7,700 in personal expenses with a city-issued purchase card while employed as the District of Sechelt’s chief financial officer.
The committee also accuses Mema of failing to co-operate with its regulatory process by not responding “on a timely basis” to an investigator.
CPA Alberta’s complaints committee’s claim that Mema made $14,150 in personal expenses with a City of Nanaimo issued purchase card is significant because the city has redacted that information from credit card statements. Documents obtained by the News Bulletin show that Mema repaid $11,418 to the city in 2017 and that his repayment included 21 recurring $500 deductions from his paycheques.
Speaking to the News Bulletin, Gordon Turtle, senior vice-president with CPA Alberta, said Mema’s registration with CPA Alberta has been temporarily suspended since the summer. He also said Mema has filed an application with the Court of Alberta, challenging the organization’s jurisdiction in the matter because the alleged events took place in B.C.
“We intend to oppose that application as a regulatory body. The matter is with our external counsel, so we are limited in what we can say about that,” Turtle said, adding that he couldn’t discuss specifics around Mema’s upcoming hearing.
All complaints received by CPA Alberta are handled by the organization’s complaints inquiry committee, which is responsible for determining whether complaints should be investigated further or dismissed. According to Turtle, while CPA Alberta will investigate complaints it receives directly, it will also examine alleged misconduct if it’s brought to the group’s attention informally such as through the media. He said CPA Alberta, which has 28,000 registered members, receives about 100 complaints per year.
“Not all complaints end up in a hearing, sometimes they get dismissed or sometimes they get resolved through mediation…” he said. “I would say between 70 to 80 per cent of those are dismissed for a number of reasons and about 10 to 20 per cent end up in front of a disciplinary tribunal hearing.”
Turtle said anyone who is the subject of a tribunal hearing is “legally” required to attend.
The CPA Alberta has the authority to sanction individuals. Sanctions can include reprimands, fines, suspensions, restrictions on areas of practice and cancellations of individuals’ registration.
Mema was originally hired as the City of Nanaimo’s director of finance in September 2015, then promoted to chief financial officer in June 2016 and later named deputy chief administrative officer. He was fired in May 2018 following a two-month suspension and after it was revealed that he used a city purchase card to book 11 separate flights for personal use.
The former chief financial officer has since filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the City of Nanaimo, accusing the municipality of discriminating against his ancestry, race, place of origin and colour. A hearing was scheduled to take place last October but was postponed.
Mema could not be reached for comment.