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TMCNet:  Review concludes former comptroller did no harm to city [Chicago Tribune]

[December 04, 2013]

Review concludes former comptroller did no harm to city [Chicago Tribune]

(Chicago Tribune (IL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 04--There is no indication that former city Comptroller Amer Ahmad, who faces public corruption charges in Ohio, engaged in any wrongdoing at City Hall, according to a legal review released Tuesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration.

The review by a law firm and an accounting firm concluded there were no parallels in Chicago to the allegations in Ohio that Ahmad ran a $500,000 kickback scheme with his friends while he was deputy state treasurer. He has pleaded not guilty to federal charges including bribery, money laundering and making false statements.

The review did find that Ahmad failed to recuse himself from some pension fund votes involving a financial firm that had city business while he was actively seeking a job with the firm, but it concluded there was no harm to the city.

Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton and city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson oversaw the review and said they were satisfied with the results submitted by former federal prosecutors at Drinker Biddle and forensic accountants at Grant Thornton.

"These guys did a comprehensive and thorough review with no limitations," Patton said. "It was independent." The firms searched through nearly 300,000 email files and reams of financial and contracting records and interviewed 31 people, including Ahmad, three comptroller employees with Ohio ties to him and city Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott.

"Scott stated that she had not observed and was not aware of any facts that indicated any wrongdoing by Ahmad while he served as comptroller," the review said.

The report also addressed some of the questions raised by Tribune reports about Scott's ties to Ahmad.

The Tribune has reported that Ahmad signed off on a contract that led to $165,000 in bond fees for Scott's former firm, Scott Balice Strategies, when he served as Ohio's deputy treasurer and she was in the private sector. After Scott started as Emanuel's CFO, she selected a firm that employed Ahmad's onetime boss, former Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce, for hundreds of thousands of dollars in city bond work.

Ahmad and Scott said the former comptroller was not involved in any decision-making related to bond deals, the review said, but Ahmad acknowledged he was copied on emails from Boyce to Scott.

Those emails, and others related to the report, could not be reviewed Tuesday, because the Emanuel administration declined to make them available. Asked to provide recordings or transcripts of the interviews of Scott and others, Patton and a Drinker attorney said there were none -- only lawyers' notes they declined to provide.

Patton said he couldn't say how much the review cost taxpayers because the firms had yet to bill the city.

Ahmad's attorney did not return a call for comment. Twitter @BillRuthhart ___ (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Visit the Chicago Tribune at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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