NGSA Fraud Probe Uncovers 'Canadian' Connection
An attorney for the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA)
revealed Friday that the civil investigation into the alleged
embezzlement activities of the group's ousted president, Nicholas
J. Bush, has spread to Canada.
During a status conference, Eugene M. Propper of the law firm of
Holland & Knight told D.C. Superior Court Judge Jose M. Lopez
he had been trying to serve party/parties in Canada in connection
with the civil lawsuit filed by NGSA last February, which accused
Bush of stealing more than $2.4 million from the producer group
since 1987. He declined to identify the Canadian party/parties when
questioned by reporters following the hearing.
A source confirmed that there was an on-going investigation in
Canada related to the case. The NGSA "has moved in that direction,"
he said, adding there was a "high possibility" of a "tangential
relationship" between Bush and the Canadian party/parties. He said
he was unable to say whether the parties were individuals or
companies, or whether they were part of the natural gas industry.
The Canadian angle came to light during NGSA's three-month probe
of Bush's alleged fraud and embezzlement activities, which were
uncovered in January. The group is "following the money to see
where the trail leads," and is looking at "anyone within the
circle" of Bush's colleagues, friends and family, the source said.
John Sharp, who has been handling NGSA's day-to-day affairs
since Bush's departure, declined to comment on the Canadian
At the conference, Propper reported the both sides were
continuing "to talk to try to think of a way to settle" the
lawsuit. But Judge Lopez expressed dissatisfaction with the slow
progress of the negotiations. "You keep talking" about a
settlement, "but talking is not enough," he told Propper and
William J. Murphy, a Baltimore attorney representing Bush.
Lopez issued a "standard" scheduling order, which spelled out
the deadlines that both sides have to meet (for discovery and other
actions) and essentially put the case on track for trial. A trial
date has not been set yet.
The lawsuit accuses Bush of setting up bogus consulting
contracts during his tenure as NGSA president and diverting the
money that was paid to the phony consultants for his own use. The
funds - only a fraction of which have been traced so far -
primarily went to acquire Bush's house in the Palisades section of
Washington, make mortgage payments, and pay off credit card and
utility bills, according to the NGSA suit. The NGSA is seeking
reimbursement of the missing $2.4 million and punitive damages of
Until the case is resolved, the court has ordered several of
Bush's assets in the District of Columbia to be attached. His two
houses - in the Palisades section and the posh McLean, VA, area -
are in the process of being sold, sources say.
In the meantime, the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington D.C.
is continuing its investigation into possible criminal charges
against Bush. Sources now predict that charges will be forthcoming
within a month. "That's probably not too far out of the realm,"
said Channing Phillips, spokesman for the attorney's office.
Criminal charges would likely stem from allegations that Bush
created phony bank accounts and mailing addresses, and misused tax
information and individuals' social security numbers as part of the
alleged fraud scheme. An investigation by the Internal Revenue
Service of Bush's activities also is likely to occur, many believe.