Nanaimo financial officer being sued by former employer

 

Nanaimo’s chief financial officer is being sued by his former employer over allegations he racked up thousands of dollars in personal expenses to a corporate credit card.

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According to a notice of claim filed by the District of Sechelt, Victor Mema allegedly used his work credit card to pay for personal items such as flights and accommodations, car insurance, cash advances, cellphone charges and banking charges.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Mema was employed by the Sunshine Coast municipality from April 8, 2013, until his resignation on Aug. 28, 2015.

A total of $36,212 in unapproved charges was discovered after he resigned, according to the district.

Mema has already paid back $4,381 for two flights and a travel expense.

The district said it is seeking to recoup $9,749 in expenses that Mema either admitted were personal expenses or which the district has determined as such, including purchases from Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Edmonton Jaguar.

Mema said he cannot comment on the allegations because he has not been served with the legal claim.

“I can’t get into he-said-she-said until I am served,” he said.

When asked if he has ever put personal expenses on his corporate credit card, Mema said “no.”

He said he plans to file a counter suit against Sechelt for breach of contract, but would not go into details. Mema alluded to allegations of discrimination and racism because he is a person of colour.

Tracy Samra, Nanaimo’s chief administrative officer, said the city was aware of the dispute between Mema and the District of Sechelt when he was hired in 2015.

“I respect the former city manager’s decision to hire him on merits and credentials,” Samra said.

“Mr. Mema has provided strong leadership as our chief financial officer.”

She said Mema has brought in financial policies and reporting practices to increase transparency and fiscal accountability.

As an example, Samra said expenses for mayor, council and senior staff are now being disclosed on a quarterly basis, rather than yearly.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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