RMWB Lawsuit alleges misuse of public funds

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) is suing its former director of human resources.

On June 7, the municipality filed a statement of claim with the Court of King’s Bench against former HR director Kari Donnelly, seeking $201,958.30 in damages. The lawsuit follows anonymous complaints alleging Donnelly misused public funds for personal gain.

The claim states the RMWB investigated the complaints and alleges Donnelly paid out $1,081,872 in “illegitimate bonuses” to select employees, including a $100,678 bonus to herself. She is accused of hiding the nature of the bonuses and seeking to conceal the information.

Donnelly was terminated before information on the bogus bonuses came to light, and she was paid $101,280.30 in severance. Both the bonus payout and severance are among the damages the RMWB is seeking to recover. They are also asking the Court of King’s Bench to award punitive damages and cover the costs of the lawsuit.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The municipality says it has taken decisive action to address issues arising from the bonus payments. On Feb. 27, 2024, the council was confidentially informed in a closed session about the payment of these illegitimate bonuses.

CAO Hunter is implementing several measures to prevent a recurrence, including a review of policies and controls. All legal work and oversight have been reassigned to the legal services team.

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