Former MaRS director charged with fraud
January 4, 2017
TORONTO – Allen Gelberg (pictured), 61, faces numerous charges after he allegedly used his position as a conference space manager at the MaRS Discovery District to defraud vendors out of as much as $970,000.
Toronto police say that Gelberg worked as director of the Collaboration Centre within MaRS, which offers conference rooms, an auditorium and other facilities to tenants of MaRS, the public sector and others seeking meeting and presentation space.
Investigators allege the man used his position to defraud MaRS and several vendors offering catering, equipment rentals and service staff, out of more than $970,000.
Det. Const. Warren Bulmer said the accused allegedly used a business called “Rediscover Niagara” to redirect money intended for MaRS purposes to himself instead. The Rediscover Niagara business, which was registered in the accused’s name, was also allegedly used to launder the money he had redirected, Bulmer said.
MaRS’ vice president of partnerships, Karen Greve Young, told CP24 that the accused allegedly pocketed commissions paid to him by caterers operating inside the event space over a long period of time.
She said he allegedly paid himself in “a lot of tiny transactions that were well below the radar,” in order to avoid detection.
Greve Young said the money involved was “not at all related to (MaRS’) government funding.”
In a statement, MaRS said it suspended the suspect as soon as “external sources” made it aware of what was going on, and later hired a forensic investigation firm to help conduct an investigation. “MaRS is working with an insurance firm to recover some of the diverted funds.”
The publicly-funded incubator and research organization says it has set up a “whistleblower line” to avoid future incidents of fraud.
Public sector salary disclosure and his own online biography indicate the suspect left MaRS in 2014.
He was charged with eight counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of defrauding the public over $5,000, possession of proceeds of crime and laundering the proceeds of crime.
Public sector salary disclosure records show Gelberg was paid more than $100,000 per year in his role with MaRS, earning a high of $176,000 in 2013.
Greve Young said his salary was paid with proceeds earned from hosting events at MaRS, and not with government funds.