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Ethics commissioner finds Lynn violated Conflict of Interest Act with paid work

OTTAWA - A month after he was fired over patronage appointments, the former CEO of Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. was cited by the federal ethics commissioner for violating the Conflict of Interest Act by working as a paid consultant.

Mary Dawson, the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, issued a 15-page report Thursday that says John Lynn contravened the act by doing paid work for a private company in 2010 and 2012 while he was the corporation's CEO. A section of the act prohibits public office holders from working as paid consultants.

Lynn was let go from the corporation following a finding by the federal integrity commissioner that he hired four people with ties to the federal Conservatives and Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative party without demonstrating the appointments were merit-based.

In a statement, Dawson says she began looking into the matter after receiving information about Lynn's work from Paul LeBlanc, president of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The documents, including letters, emails offering advice and copies of invoices, indicated Lynn worked as a consultant "on a number of occasions between August 2010 and November 2012," says the report by Dawson.

LeBlanc was not available for comment when an attempt to contact him was made through ACOA.

Lynn could not be reached at the only phone listing that matches his name in Cape Breton.

Dawson says the investigation, which was launched more than a year ago, took time because there were delays with Lynn's availability.

She says she tried on many occasions to set up meetings to interview Lynn, who put them off until he received documents from ACOA.

In her report, Dawson says Lynn maintained that he did not contravene the act because some of the conditions he agreed to in his dealings with his private consulting company were made before he took on his role at Enterprise Cape Breton.

In documenting transactions between Lynn and the company that had retained him, Dawson says she found he was paid $4,800 for several days of work in 2010 when he talked to shareholders of an unidentified firm she refers to as "Company X" regarding the possible sale of their business.

She says he also did about four days of work for the company in 2012, for which he was paid for two invoices of $6,421 and $2,729.

"It is clear that Mr. Lynn was paid for the work he did for Company X," Dawson wrote. "I have concluded that Mr. Lynn ... served as a paid consultant to Company X while chief executive officer of ECBC and that this was not required in the exercise of his official functions, powers and duties."

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