The chair of Sustainable Development Technologies Canada’s board of directors, Annette Verschuren has announced her resignation from the crown corporation.
Verschuren’s resignation comes after the federal ethics commissioner announced an investigation into a potential conflict of interest regarding $217,000 of Covid-19 payments SDTC distributed to NRStor, a company that Verschuren is the CEO of.
“While I have faithfully and fully committed myself and my decision-making to serve the organization’s best interests, it is time for me to step aside,” Verschuren said in her resignation letter to Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne.
“Continuous improvement is the foundation of any successful organization, and these assessments provided helpful recommendations for procedural improvements, which we wholeheartedly accept. We can always do better.”
Verschuren was grilled at the House of Commons’ ethics committee earlier this month for her role in granting NRStor two rounds of Covid-19 payments totalling $217,000.
Verschuren did not recuse herself from the board meetings in which SDTC granted NRStor the relief payments despite the potential conflict of interest.
Verschuren told the ethics committee that she received legal advice that she was not obligated to recuse herself from the vote to distribute the Covid-19 relief payments.
In recent months, SDTC and its leadership has come under fire after multiple news reports revealed significant corporate mismanagement.
In response to whistleblowers from SDTC reaching out to the government and complaining about corporate mismanagement, the federal department Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) commissioned a report from Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to investigate the matter.
True North spoke with an SDTC whistleblower and conducted an independent investigation which found that SDTC had given tens of millions of dollars to companies to which its former and current board members have financial ties. Further, SDTC fired employees who presented their concerns about the corporate mismanagement they witnessed.
The Raymond Chabot report uncovered a number of problems with SDTC’s governance, including the funnelling of money to companies in which board of directors members had personal or financial interests, several violations of SDTC’s contribution agreement with ISED, and failures of SDTC’s human resources policy.
The scrutiny placed on SDTC culminated in SDTC’s long-time CEO Leah Lawrence resigning from her position after what she called a “sustained and malicious campaign to undermine” her leadership.