Long-time employee investigated in $500,000 St. John’s theft

  • January 26, 2011
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. - The trusted friend and colleague who saved Archbishop Martin Currie’s life two years ago is being investigated in the theft of more than $500,000 from the archdiocese of St. John’s.

The archdiocese has laid a complaint with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary over cheques Bill Power wrote to himself. An employee of the archdiocese for 38 years, Power was the comptroller and business manager for the archdiocese who also managed the business of the Catholic cemeteries.

On New Year’s Day 2009, Power found Currie semi-conscious and covered in soot in his home in Outer Cove. Power had gone looking for the archbishop when Currie failed to show for a Mass. A collapsed chimney had filled the archbishop’s home with carbon monoxide.

“I will always be grateful to him for his quick actions at that time,” Currie told The St. John’s Telegram. “But as archbishop of St. John’s, my primary responsibility is to the people who are entrusted to my care, my guidance and my leadership and to see that their money is managed wisely.”

Power resigned in October as the first hints of the theft came to light. An analysis of finances by Ernst & Young from 2003 on revealed the scope of the losses. Police are now investigating Power.

Power is alleged to have written cheques to his own pension account. He had mentioned to Currie that his pension had suffered in the market meltdown of 2008, and he asked to keep working until he could replenish his pension.

The archdiocese will take legal steps to recover as much of the money as possible.

The archdiocese of St. John’s has instituted new financial controls requiring all cheques to be countersigned.

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