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Champagne Living on the Taxpayer's Dime 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:00 p.m., August 9, 2007]

The former home of DND bureaucrat Paul Champagne.

OTTAWA -- The scandal involving a former defence department bureaucrat behind a $143 million invoicing fraud scheme continues to make headlines 

This summer, Paul Champagne plead guilty to fraud and breach of trust charges.  "I am accepting responsibility for my actions," he told reporters.

Between 1994 and 2003 Champagne's activities, in which he received payment for bogus computer maintenance contracts that were never delivered to the government, went largely undetected. Champagne reportedly was able to dupe subcontractors who wanted more details by claiming the work for Department of National Defence was top secret. 

While working in the department's procurement branch, Champagne earned $80,000 a year. Yet his $1.35 million mansion, vacation homes in Florida and Turks and Caicos, luxury cars and jet-set lifestyle did not raise any serious red flags for nearly a decade. 

"Why did anyone not get suspicious when DND employee Paul Champagne was living in a mansion with a gym and an indoor pool and tennis court on Billionaire's Row," Conservative MP Jay Hill asked in question period in 2004 when the scandal first broke. 

At the time, Champagne maintained his innocence and said his financial success was due to his playing the stock market and some luck he had during a trip to Las Vegas.  

As bad as the Champagne case was it is possible that something like this could happen again. The federal government has never called for a review or an inquiry into DND's procurement process, as the scandal is being handled primarily before the courts. 

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