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B.C. admits to liability in civil claim alleging social worker siphoned funds

(Source; iStock) (Source; iStock)

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government has admitted to negligence and fraud by a social worker accused of siphoning off thousands of dollars in financial benefits from children in care.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development says in its response to a notice of civil claim filed in November by the public guardian and trustee that it admits “vicarious liability for the acts and omissions” of Robert Riley Saunders, a former social worker in Kelowna.

The notice of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver alleges that Saunders misappropriated funds and failed to provide adequate support to children in care.

Saunders is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but he has not filed a statement of defence and none of the allegations against him have been proven. Attempts to reach Saunders have not been successful and it is not known if he has legal counsel.

Jason Gratl, who filed the proposed class-action lawsuit, says the case will continue against Saunders and Interior Savings Financial Services Ltd., which has not filed a statement of defence in the case

Interior Savings could not immediately be reached for comment, but in a statement on Nov. 7 it said the financial institution takes its fiduciary responsibilities seriously. It added that it could not address the specific allegations because of privacy laws.