Ethics watchdog clears high-ranking public servant over funding flap

OTTAWA – The federal ethics watchdog has cleared a high-ranking public servant alleged to have helped a friend’s organization obtain government funding.

Mary Dawson, the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, found Robert Fonberg did not break any rules in 2007 when he was senior associate secretary of the Treasury Board.

At the time, the Treasury Board Secretariat and Foreign Affairs were discussing $800,000 in proposed funding for the non-profit Forum of Federations for a project in Sudan.

George Anderson, the forum’s president and chief executive, was a former colleague of Fonberg’s.

But Dawson found Fonberg and Anderson were not “friends” within the meaning of the Conflict of Interest Act and the bureaucrat did not try to influence any funding decisions.

The commissioner also found that Treasury Board was already considering funding for the project before Fonberg got involved.

Fonberg was recently named special adviser to the clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to the cabinet after a stint as deputy minister of National Defence.

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