AFSC hires new CEO, no charges laid following expense scandal

AFSC announced March 19 that it has hired Steve Blakely as its new CEO. From Left: Anna Harder, AFSC board member; Peter Galloway, AFSC board member; Jennifer Wood, board chair; Steve Blakely, AFSC CEO; Gord Cove, AFSC board member. | Government of Alberta photo

No criminal charges will be laid against three former AFSC executives after an investigation found they engaged in questionable purchasing practices and racked up lavish expenses.

Alberta agriculture minister Oneil Carlier said the RCMP completed its investigation into the executives at AFSC, also known as Agriculture Financial Services Corp., but couldn’t lay charges because their expenses were ultimately approved by the old board. Expenses included unnecessary limo rides, gifts of booze, theatre tickets and rounds of golf.

Carlier sacked the former board in 2016 and has since replaced it with new members, who have more powers to keep spending in line.

“It’s important to note none of those three executives currently work for AFSC, so there is no ability for the government to do any disciplinary action,” Carlier said. “I trust in the professionalism of the RCMP and that they’ve done a thorough job.”

The news that there will be no criminal charges came on the same day AFSC announced a new chief executive officer for the crown corporation.

Steve Blakely, who has more than 40 years of working in the financial sector, was hired to lead the organization. Before he was appointed, he served as the president and CEO for Servus Credit Union and the president and CEO for the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corp. of Alberta.

“I think the image of AFSC has already changed,” he said. “In my perspective, it’s new days, a new board. They’ve set some clear direction that I’m excited to participate in and move forward.”

Blakely said producers will see enhanced programs that aim to grow the industry. He said the programs will be delivered differently based on whether a farmer is starting out or has been farming for some time.

“You’ll see a marginal focus change on how we deliver some of our products and how they will be rolled out to starting farmers versus mature farmers,” he explained.

“It’s critical we grow the agriculture industry and we’re trying to align our products to do that more effectively.”

As well, he said other AFSC priorities include spending wisely and improving customer service.

Blakely is scheduled to start his three-year contract on May 1. His salary will be $301,000, which is much less than what former president Brad Klak made at $732,104.


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