Former Surrey planner charged with fraud

Crown approved several charges against Akonyu Akolo on Tuesday.

Former City of Surrey planner Akonyu Akolo is being charged with three counts related to money missing from the Surrey coffers. The City is suing.

A former Surrey planner has been charged with misappropriating funds in regards to a development application.

Surrey RCMP said North Delta’s Akonyu Akolo has been charged with breach of trust by a public officer, corrupt municipal official, secret commissions,  and fraudulent concealment.

The former planner was reported to the city by a developer last April, causing Akolo’s termination and sparking a criminal investigation.

During the course of their investigation, police found no criminal wrongdoing on the side of the developer or any other City of Surrey staff.

None of the allegations against Akolo have been proven in court.

Akolo, a Ugandan with his masters degree in planning from UBC, was in charge of area planning and development for South Surrey.

Reached on his cellphone Tuesday, Akolo referred comment to his lawyer Marvin Stern.

Stern would only say that it’s been a lengthy investigation and he couldn’t offer a great deal about the case, as he has not seen the particulars.

Marvin Stern“We don’t have any information whatsoever,” Stern said Tuesday. “I know that the investigation has been a lengthy one, because I’ve been involved in it for some time, but we have not received any disclosure whatsoever.”

The city has also launched a civil action against Akolo.

The city alleges Akolo used the city’s money in the purchase of a house on Chateau Wynd in North Delta with an assessed value of $624,000, according to a CBC report. Surrey has placed a notice of pending litigation on the title to Akolo’s home.

Surrey said in its claim that it is seeking general damages, special damages and punitive damages from Akolo.

It is not clear whether a civil writ has been served on Akolo.

On April 15, 2010, the day before the civil documents were filed in court, Surrey RCMP announced they had started a criminal investigation after receiving information from the City of Surrey regarding one of its employees.

Mayor Dianne Watts said the city has set up several preventative measures.

“We have an internal auditor, we’ve changed some of our processes, we had KPMG do a forensic audit and any loopholes that were existing have now been closed,” Watts told The Leader.

It’s unusual for a civil action to precede criminal charges, but Watts said she wanted all bases covered.

“We came at it two ways,” Watts said. “One was to ensure we would have every opportunity to recoup any losses. And as well, a criminal investigation for the alleged conduct of that employee.”

Watts said she believes the city’s losses do not exceed the value of the $624,000 home.

Akolo is scheduled to appear in court on April 20.