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Dead woman's estate ordered to pay B.C. university more than $650,000 for wage fraud, theft

The University of British Columbia campus is seen in the foreground, with downtown Vancouver in the background, in this photo from June 2019. The University of British Columbia campus is seen in the foreground, with downtown Vancouver in the background, in this photo from June 2019.
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The estate of a woman who died more than a decade ago is being ordered to pay a B.C. university more than $650,000 for wage fraud and theft.

A B.C. Supreme Court decision published this week recounted incidents that unfolded between 1997 and 2011, when Wanda Barbara Moscipan worked as an administrator for both the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. 

"While in that dual role, Ms. Moscipan had substantial administrative autonomy in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and significant control, oversight and management of the financial affairs of the doctors who worked for both UBC and VCHA," Justice Matthew Taylor's decision said.

But in 2011, a new department head "became suspicious about some of Ms. Moscipan's behaviour," and ordered an audit of her activities dating back to 1997. The audit determined, Taylor wrote, that Moscipan engaged in numerous fraudulent activities including stealing money from a dormant bank account.

The report also concluded Moscipan engaged in wage theft by receiving 180 per cent of a full-time salary, without authorization. Taylor's decision explained Moscipan received 100 per cent of a full-time salary from UBC and 80 per cent of a salary from VCHA. However, while in her joint role, she was only entitled to receive 20 per cent of a full-time salary from UBC.

The court heard Moscipan was also found to be "forging the signatures of her supervisors to give herself unauthorized pay raises over a series of years."

Taylor's decision included statements from one of Moscipan's supervisors, saying Moscipan was never asked to work more than a full-time job. Her supervisor also stated she didn't "observe Ms. Moscipan doing the work of an employee working 180 per cent of a full-time position."

During UBC's audit, Moscipan admitted to the falsified timesheets, testifying she "felt that (she) was doing two jobs for UBC and VCHA." She also admitted she had access to electronic signatures of supervising doctors and used those to give "merit increases" to her UBC salary without their consent.

Moscipan was fired for cause from UBC in late 2011. She died in 2012.

VCHA's legal action

In his decision, Taylor explained VCHA had taken its own legal action against Moscipan's estate and her husband. The 2017 ruling determined Moscipan committed fraud and stole funds from the health authority. 

"Between 2003 and 2011, Ms. Moscipan stole and/or defrauded over $500,000 from the VCHA, primarily by having busy physicians sign blank cheque requisitions which she subsequently completed to direct the requested cheques to an account she controlled," that decision said.

"Ms. Moscipan was obviously adept at fooling people close to her regarding financial matters. She fooled her close colleagues at UBC and the VCHA for many years, to the point that it took several audits conducted over a year or more for UBC and the VCHA to uncover the extent of her conversion and fraud."

The estate was ordered to pay VCHA nearly $575,000.

'Unjustly enriched'

Taylor determined that Moscipan and her estate were "unjustly enriched," adding UBC "suffered a corresponding deprivation."

"As a result of Ms. Moscipan's wage theft, Ms. Moscipan (and consequently the estate after her death) was enriched by the amount of $594,680.26. It would therefore be unjust for the estate to retain property derived from funds that were fraudulently obtained by Ms. Moscipan," Taylor's decision said, adding that the estate is required to make restitution to UBC for that full amount.

Additionally, Taylor determined the estate must repay the university $56,436.95 for the money stolen from the dormant bank account.

The court also ordered Moscipan's husband to pay just over $15,000 in restitution to UBC. He was ordered to pay just over $246,000 to VCHA in the 2017 proceedings, but that amount was reduced to about $130,300 in a 2019 appeal.  

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