Detroit Riverfront Conservancy places CFO on leave, requests criminal investigation from police

CFO William Smith

An investigation is underway into the finances of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and its chief financial officer has been placed on leave amid concerns about the management of the groups money. 

Michigan State Police have confirmed they are conducting an investigation into the entire organization's finances. 

Meanwhile, the conservancy's president released a statement to FOX 2 Tuesday night that it decided to place CFO William Smith on leave, based on the recommendation of a law firm's audit of its management reports.

"I recently became concerned about the accuracy of management reports and financial statements that had been provided to the Board of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy," Board Chairman Matt Cullen said. "After consulting with Board leadership, we moved immediately to order an independent forensic audit by PwC and sought counsel from the Honigman Law Firm and its lead partner for investigations, former U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider."

After Honigman's report and placing Smith on leave, the conservancy forwarded its financial records to state police and requested a criminal investigation, the statement included. 

Cullen will oversee operations while the investigation plays out.

"The riverfront is a beloved and important asset to the community, and we are committed to building a vibrant space for all metro Detroiters to enjoy. The project is moving ahead and will be stronger because of what we learn from the Board-controlled internal review and the State Police investigation."

The conservancy has been behind the revitalization of Detroit's riverfront, with several recent additions opening to the public. 

According to his bio on the conservancy's website, Smith is a graduate of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Leadership Detroit Class with more than 20 years of accounting experience.