News / Ottawa

The Ottawa Hospital keeps details of meetings under wraps

Many paragraphs of the finance and audit committee's minutes are blacked out in documents released to Metro under freedom-of-information request.

The Ottawa Hospital has redacted several portions of minutes from its finance and audit committee meetings held last fall as fraud and embezzlement allegations were swirling about one of its former directors.

Joe Lofaro/Metro

The Ottawa Hospital has redacted several portions of minutes from its finance and audit committee meetings held last fall as fraud and embezzlement allegations were swirling about one of its former directors.

The Ottawa Hospital is keeping a tight lid on what was said at meetings of its finance and audit committee after it singled out one of its former directors for his alleged role in a fraud and kickback scheme.

On Sept. 29, 2015 – one day after the committee held one of its regularly scheduled meetings – the hospital says it confronted Frank Medwenitsch, who was then its director of planning and capital projects, for allegedly conspiring with certain contractors to rig bids in exchange for luxury fishing trips and other gifts.

Those allegations and many others – none of which have been proven in court ­– are contained in a statement of claim filed in early January as part of a civil suit at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Metro requested the minutes from meetings the committee held on Sept. 28, Oct. 26 and Nov. 23 under the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

A number of paragraphs are blacked out in the copies of the minutes provided to Metro, and it is not clear if those paragraphs are about the allegations made in the hospital’s lawsuit.

In many of the redacted paragraphs, however, the hospital cited a section of the Act that allows for records to be withheld if they could be reasonably expected to, among other things, “interfere with a law enforcement matter,” “interfere with an investigation,” or “deprive a person of the right to a fair trial.”

Three weeks after Medwenitsch left the hospital, the minutes show the committee talked about a three-year internal audit plan, which had been initiated last spring.

The plan called for two audits each year, according to the minutes, with the possibility of a third.

Lawyers for all the parties were scheduled to meet in court Tuesday morning after the hospital asked the court to combine the civil action with another suit it launched against one of the contractors being sued.

The lawyers could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. 

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