By Christina Blizzard, Toronto Sun ( Apr. 08, 2016) – The OPP probe of Ornge is still up in the air.
Det.-Supt. Dave Truax, the police officer in charge of the OPP probe into the Ornge air ambulance scandal, says he’s aware of the recent conviction by an Italian court of a former senior executive of the company implicated in the Ornge air ambulance inquiry.
However, Truax could not say how long it will be before the OPP wraps up its probe.
“The multi-year criminal investigation into criminal fraud related allegations involving Ornge Air Ambulance Service continues,” said Truax.
Reuters reported that the former boss of Italian aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, was sentenced Thursday by the Milan appeals court to 4.5 years in jail for false accounting and corruption over the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to India.
The court also gave a four-year jail term on the same charges to Bruno Spagnolini, former head of AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica.
“The OPP Investigative team is aware of recent court proceedings in Italy involving Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini,” said Truax, of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch by e-mail.
“The OPP criminal investigation is ongoing. I am unable to speculate as to the length of time that will be required to conduct a thorough and detailed criminal investigation,” he said.
The Italian case against the two executives resulted from an investigation launched in 2012 into the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to India’s government.
The anti-rackets branch of the OPP began their probe in 2012, after the provincial auditor released a scathing report on Ornge’s financial management. Then-auditor general Jim McCarter reported Ornge and its former CEO Chris Mazza spent $148 million on 12 new helicopters for air ambulance use, then put 12 seats in two of them, making them unusable for medical purposes.
The AG also reported Ornge received at least $4.8 million from the helicopter-maker in a contract that was shifted from Ornge to a subsidiary shortly after the auditor’s probe began, making it impossible for McCarter to review
Ornge also received another $2.9 million charitable donation from the helicopter-maker to improve patient care and training.