Saturday, June 15, 2024

Suspended ArriveCan IT consultant tries to sell $2.2 million Ottawa office condo as RCMP conducts probe

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An Ottawa technology consulting company suspended from working on federal government contracts after becoming embroiled in the ArriveCan app spending controversy is unloading a $2.2 million office condominium it owns near Parliament Hill, Global News has learned.

Coradix Technology Consulting Ltd. put up for sale an office suite which it owns at 222 Somerset St. West in the national capital downtown about five months ago, just as the ArriveCan app spending controversy was intensifying inside and outside Parliament, documents show.

The Coradix-owned office, Suite #500, is a sprawling, well-lit space inside the five-storey commercial building nestled between Metcalfe and Elgin streets, just 10 blocks from Parliament Hill.

Neither Coradix nor its Chief Executive Officer Tony Carmanico returned telephone or email messages seeking additional information about the sale.

The listing says the office suite was recently remodeled, which photos appear to confirm.

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The reception area inside Suite #500 at 222 Somerset St. West in Ottawa. ArriveCan IT firm Coradix Technology Consulting Ltd. put the property on the market five months ago as the scandal exploded. Coradix’s federal government contracts were frozen this month.

CREA / Ottawa Real Estate Board

Coradix bought its two units in the building – suites #500 and #700 – for $2,846,500 in December 2019, just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, property registration records show.

(Suite #700 appears to be occupied by a second, sister business owned by Coradix CEO Carmanico called Mad Ads Interactive Inc.  Suite #700 does not appear to be part of the $2.2 million sale.)

Though Coradix has since 2021 announced multiple federal government contract wins on its website, including one for technology support of the Canada Border Services Agency’s intelligence and enforcement branch, Coradix has made no public announcement there about selling its offices.

CBRE Ottawa senior vice president Dominic Dostie is the agent now selling Suite #500.

Dostie abruptly ended a phone call with a Global News reporter when asked questions about the suite and the reason for its sale. Dostie did not respond to a subsequent detailed email message, either.

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Coradix obtained a $2,847,000 mortgage loan from National Bank of Canada to pay for its purchase in December, 2019.  Coradix and National Bank had signed the loan commitment letter back in August 2019, land title records show.

Coradix Technology Consulting Ltd. bought two office suite condos in this building in downtown Ottawa in 2019. Now, it’s selling one of them for $2.2 million amid the ArriveCan app contracts controversy and RCMP probe.

CREA / Ottawa Real Estate Board

Dostie’s CBRE listing statement described the suite as “prime office space in the heart of Ottawa.”

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It further states: “Recently remodeled space boasts a sleek reception area, state-of-the-art conference room, and open plan workstations, complimented by spacious offices and meeting rooms.”

“The large kitchen and lounge area, bathed in natural light with a modern industrial design, creates an inviting ambiance your employees will love,” the listing adds.

“Notable amenities include ground and covered parking, bicycle storage, and convenient on-site showers. Experience the blend of comfort, functionality, and style from this well-crafted office, the perfect space for your business growth,” it further adds.

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The city of Ottawa annual property taxes for Suite #500 office suite are $39,270, including taxes on the ownership of its six included parking spaces.

On March 6, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) announced it had frozen all Coradix’s current work  and unfinished contracts it had been previously awarded. The technology consulting firm was also barred from bidding on any new government contracts, PSPC said in a terse statement.

PPSC said it stopped Coradix’s work under a “framework” that exists to “to prevent, detect and respond to situations of conflict of interest or potential wrongdoing, in order to safeguard the integrity, fairness, openness and transparency of the federal procurement system.”

“In addition, Coradix has been suspended from participating in new procurement opportunities, while also disqualifying the company from eligibility considerations for current and future PSPC methods of supply instruments,” the department said.

The procurement freeze on Coradix is a major blow to the Ottawa-based IT consulting company, which was launched in 1995 and has grown into a $50-million-a-year business.

The suspensions are in place until further notice, the government agency said.

Click to play video: 'ArriveCan app: A look at Canada’s procurement process after baffling testimony from contractors'

ArriveCan app: A look at Canada’s procurement process after baffling testimony from contractors

The company’s property sale comes as the RCMP, the Integrity Commissioner, the Privacy Commissioner and a House of Commons committee have launched separate investigations into contracting irregularities in the ArriveCan app affair, which began as a $80,000 project to build a travel and health information app for Canadians during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The app’s spending bill then exploded into a mushroom cloud of  at least $59.5 million worth of deals involving a lead company, GC Strategies, and a labyrinth of technology subcontractors that included Dalian Enterprises and Coradix, Auditor General of Canada Karen Hogan recently reported.

“We didn’t find records to accurately show how much was spent on what, who did the work or how and why contracting decisions were made, and that paper trail should have existed,” Hogan told MPs on the Commons public accounts committee after releasing her report.

Hogan said the contracting process was so severely mismanaged by government and the contractors, and record-keeping was so bad, that she couldn’t actually determine the real cost of ArriveCan, which helped Canadians store information electronically about their vaccination status for travels.

Click to play video: 'ArriveCAN app developers had ‘glaring disregard for basic management,’ audit shows'

ArriveCAN app developers had ‘glaring disregard for basic management,’ audit shows

The RCMP’s investigation into the affair continues. Nobody has been charged with any crime so far.

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Talking to reporters last month, however, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was clear misconduct has occurred.

“It is obvious that the contract rules were not followed in this case and we need to make sure that there is accountability and transparency around that,” Trudeau said.

Click to play video: 'Poilievre warns Trudeau to ‘stay out of the way’ of RCMP ArriveCAN investigation'

Poilievre warns Trudeau to ‘stay out of the way’ of RCMP ArriveCAN investigation

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