The Anglican Diocese of Brandon is suing a priest in a bid to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly embezzled using a credit card.
According to a statement of claim recently filed in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench, the diocese is suing Noah Njegovan for $350,000, plus other damages and costs.
Such lawsuits are typically launched to reimburse insurance companies for any payment made to cover lost funds.
The lawsuit alleges that an employee of the diocese made fraudulent purchases and large cash advances using a diocese credit card.
That activity was covered up by intercepting credit card bills in the mail and using Internet banking to redirect funds from a diocese bank account to pay for the purchases.
The employee would make payments throughout the month so the card wouldn’t go over its $2,500 limit, the claim states.
By August 2012, record-keeping concerns led to the employee’s dismissal and another employee took over the bookkeeping.
It was then that the fraud was discovered, and an audit determined more than $200,000 had been misappropriated for the employee’s own use.
The statement of claim doesn’t specify how the money was spent.
The allegations haven’t been proven in court.
The diocese lawsuit seeks $250,000 for fraud, breach of trust, breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. It also seeks a further $100,000 in punitive damages.
In addition, the diocese seeks the right to trace Njegovan’s financial dealings and an injunction preventing him from disposing of any of his assets.
According to the claim, Njegovan was executive archdeacon and assistant to his father, Brandon Bishop Jim Njegovan, between 2009 and September 2012. Noah Njegovan handled all bookkeeping, including payroll, and prepared budgets and financial statements.
Njegovan was charged with fraud over $5,000, but that charge was withdrawn in March and the allegations weren’t proven in court.
However, an investigation (which is to include a forensic audit) continues and charges may still be laid if warranted.
Njegovan has not filed a statement of defence.
A spokesperson for the diocese declined comment on the lawsuit when reached by the Brandon Sun.
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