Former IWK finance official says he immediately noticed problems with Tracy Kitch’s spending
Former IWK Health Center CEO Tracy Kitch struggled with the timeliness of her expense reports, producing the necessary receipts and billing for personal effects almost as soon as she received a corporate credit card the hospital’s former acting chief financial officer said on Wednesday.
Sean Walker was one of three people to testify in Halifax Provincial Court on the third day of Kitch’s trial. She is charged with fraud over $ 5,000 and breach of trust.
Walker, who served as interim chief financial officer from 2014 to 2015, said the hospital implemented corporate credit cards for purchases in 2014, in part because some small vendors used by the hospital no ‘did not accept purchase orders.
The hospital established a policy stating that cards should not be used for personal expenses and that violations of the rules could result in reimbursement of costs by an employee and possibly disciplinary action up to and including termination. Kitch and others who received credit cards signed the policy.
Even with those steps, Walker said he had concerns about getting the cards.
“We were even reluctant to have credit cards for years and years because we didn’t want to have to deal with personal use,” he said.
Cardholders are requested to submit receipts
While the card balances were automatically refunded each month by the hospital, each cardholder received a monthly statement and was asked to submit receipts to the hospital’s finance department within two weeks of receiving their statement. .
Walker said he immediately noticed an issue with Kitch’s spending. Receipts were sometimes missing, personal effects were charged to his card and deposits were often late, he said.
“The only one that tended to be continually late was the CEO’s expense reports,” he said.
In addition to speaking to Kitch’s assistant about it, Walker said he raised the issue with the hospital’s vice president in charge of human resources and, in both cases, felt that the situation would be resolved.
Although he tried to contact several members of the board’s finance committee, Walker said Kitch told him in early 2015 that he should not speak to board members without her present or that a message does not pass through it.
“So I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to present these elements to the board at the time,” he said.
The report reported $ 47,000 in personal expenses
Questions about Kitch’s spending and the use of his company card for personal items ultimately led to the police investigation which resulted in charges. An auditor’s report commissioned by the hospital’s board of directors noted approximately $ 47,000 in charges deemed personal, charges which Kitch ultimately reimbursed in full.
Kitch’s lawyer, Jacqueline King, has so far admitted to several witnesses that they had not seen any examples of fraud by the former hospital official during his tenure. In cross-examination on Wednesday, Jennifer Feron, general counsel for the IWK, was the last witness to do so.
“I never saw any expense reports and no one ever came to tell me that something had been tampered with,” she said.
The court also heard from Alison Lucio, one of Kitch’s former executive assistants.
Lucio testified that it was she who explored the idea of purchasing a flight pass for Kitch, which allows open booking of airline tickets, following frustrations caused by repeated travel bookings from last minute and change requests. The unlimited pass Kitch chooses costs around $ 12,500 with tax, Lucio said.
Lucio is expected to resume his testimony on Friday.