Advertisement

Former Alberta accountant accused of professional misconduct now facing fraud charges

Paul Sturt has been charged with seven fraud-related charges. RCMP laid the charges on Jan. 17, 2024. (CBC - image credit)
Paul Sturt has been charged with seven fraud-related charges. RCMP laid the charges on Jan. 17, 2024. (CBC - image credit)

A former chartered accountant undergoing a disciplinary hearing into alleged unprofessional conduct is now facing fraud-related criminal charges.

Paul Sturt, 49, of Strathmore, has been charged with six counts of fraud over $5,000 and one count of falsification of books and documents with fraudulent intent.

The charges, which have not been proven in court, relate to offences that allegedly occurred between 2010 and 2017 in the city of Spruce Grove.

The six charges for fraud over $5,000 name Thompson Brothers, an arm of Thompson Construction Group in Spruce Grove, as the company that was defrauded.

At the time of the alleged incidents, Sturt was the controller and later chief financial officer for Thompson Brothers.

"An intensive investigation uncovered a complex fraud, which caused significant financial harm to a company who employs more than 1,000 individuals and, by extension, threatened the economic integrity of Alberta's construction industry," said Sgt. John Lamming, with the RCMP's provincial financial crime team, in a news release Tuesday.

Court documents show Thompson Brothers filed a complaint against him with RCMP in the spring of 2019.

Brian Beresh, Sturt's lawyer, said Sturt denies any wrongdoing in this case.

"We believe that the charges are unfounded and will not be proven in court," he said in an email.

The maximum sentences for fraud over $5,000 and falsification of documents are 14 years and five years, respectively.

Disciplinary hearing

The professional organization for chartered professional accountants in Alberta has also been scrutinizing Sturt's actions during the same time period.

CPA Alberta's complaints inquiry committee has accused Sturt of failing to carry out his duties with integrity and due care while he was working as an executive for four companies and as a corporate director for a fifth company.

The committee alleges he received more than $6.5 million in unauthorized payments, funds and wire transfers from companies between 2010 and 2017.

CPA Alberta has begun a disciplinary hearing into alleged unprofessional conduct of Paul Sturt.
CPA Alberta has begun a disciplinary hearing into alleged unprofessional conduct of Paul Sturt.

CPA Alberta has begun a disciplinary hearing into alleged unprofessional conduct of Paul Sturt. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

Sturt told a disciplinary hearing in November that he is not guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Beresh said during the hearing that Sturt was a dedicated employee who helped the Thompson group of companies and then-owner Larry Thompson save money in taxes.

The disciplinary hearing is scheduled to continue for a week in February and four days in May.

Chris Mendez, Thompson Construction Group's corporate services manager, declined to comment on the hearing and on the recent criminal charges.

Court documents show there have also been legal disputes between Sturt and another group of construction companies during the past year, with Sturt and Anport Financial Inc. filing a statement of claim against Kichton Contracting and other related companies in early March 2023. The companies filed a counterclaim later that month for $560,000.