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Surrey suing for alleged developer conspiracy

Unnamed private corporatios added to claim against former city planner
Former Surrey planner Akonyu Akolo

The City of Surrey is now alleging unnamed developers acted in conspiracy with a former planner to bilk the city out of fees.

This week, Surrey added several individuals and corporations to a lawsuit against former city planner Akonyu Akolo, who the city alleges took bribes from the public.

"(Akolo) in exchange agreed not to collect the full amounts of fees owed by those members of the public to the city, in respect to rezoning, subdivisions or development permit applications they had made to the city," according to the city's April 11 Notice of Application.

In its amended lawsuit, the city alleges developers tortiously conspired with Akolo in a bribery scheme that caused financial harm to the city.

"Each of the developers entered into an agreement with Akolo, whereby each developer agreed with Akolo to pursue shared goals that they knew would injure the city, namely that they agreed Akolo would accept a bribe, would not collect from the developers the full amount of fees owed the city," the Notice of Civil Claim states.

The claim focuses on developers, Akolo and an individual referred to as Jane Doe #1.

"Jane Doe #1 is a person or persons who received funds from developers at the direction of Akolo, and who provided Akolo with falsified invoices or other assistance as a means of concealing the payment of bribes by the developers," the city's Notice of Application states.

The city is pursuing Jane Doe #1, the unnamed developers and Akolo for money lost directly, as well as any proceeds earned from the alleged misappropriation of funds.

The city has also placed a notice of judgement against Akolo's Delta home, stating that the funds the planner took from the city were used directly for the purchase of the house on Chateau Wynd in North Delta. It has an assessed value of $624,000.

Akolo is also being criminally charged with fraud with regard to the missing funds.

He was charged last month with breach of trust by a public officer, corrupt municipal official, secret commissions,  and fraudulent concealment.

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.

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.

Akolo is scheduled to appear in court on April 20.