The role of the Public Trustee is to protect and manage the property of deceased persons, represented adults and minors when there is no one else to act on their behalf.
In 2010, Service Alberta notified the Office of the Public Trustee that one of its senior trust officers had obtained a government identification card under another name. Upon further investigation, the OPT found that in 1997 the senior trust officer paid $102,000 to an individual of that name, identified as the sole beneficiary in an estate file that the officer administered. The funds were deposited into a bank account opened using the government identification. In 1998, the senior trust officer approved a final distribution from the same estate of $20,000 that was deposited into the same bank account.
After completing its internal investigation and finding that funds were improperly disbursed, the OPT terminated the employment of the senior trust officer administering the file. The Public Trustee, as personal representative of the estate, filed a civil suit seeking to recover the funds the senior trust officer allegedly misappropriated. The Deputy Minister of the Department of Justice asked the Office, and we agreed, to do two things:
- an investigation to assess the risk that the dismissed senior trust officer misappropriated other client funds
- an audit of the design and operating effectiveness of the OPT’s systems to safeguard and administer client assets
What we examined
Our examination included reviewing files the former employee had handled and auditing the internal controls the OPT uses to protect its clients’ financial interests.
Why it is important to Albertans
Albertans should be confident that the financial interests of vulnerable individuals are being properly safeguarded and managed by the Public Trustee.