Quebec courts have frozen millions of dollars in property and bank accounts in the fraud and bribery case linked to Arthur Porter and the construction of a billion-dollar Montreal hospital, newly released court documents reveal.
Police affidavits allege an elaborate scheme by Dr. Porter, the former head of the McGill University Health Centre, and his right-hand man Yanai Elbaz to launder funds defrauded from the McGill University Health Centre through shell companies, real estate and bank accounts that span the globe.
Crown prosecutor Paul Mercier says the Quebec agency charged with seizing the proceeds of crime has tracked down and frozen $17.5-million of the $22.5-million allegedly stolen.
Dozens of accounts in Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Liechtenstein, Israel, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States are on ice, along with property in St. Kitts-Nevis and the Bahamas. Properties in Michigan and Florida caught in the freeze were purchased for Dr. Porter's daughters.
The allegations, which one police investigator has described as the largest corporate corruption case in Canadian history, have not been tested in court.
The agency responsible for seizing crime proceeds sought to lift a publication ban on its work in the MUHC case. The case for release was joined by several media outlets. The challenge was only partially successful and many documents remain under a publication ban.
Crown prosecutor Paul Mercier said proceeds from the bank accounts and the properties, which carry alluring names and addresses such as Half Moon Bay, Pineapple Grove and Lookout Point, may not be in the province's hands for years. Trials are still likely a long way off and dozens of foreign governments will have to co-operate before final resolution.
Dr. Porter and Mr. Elbaz, who was in charge of real estate at the MUHC, face charges of money laundering, fraud and accepting bribes. Mr. Porter is in a Panamanian jail while Canadian authorities work to extradite him to face trial in Quebec. Mr. Elbaz's brother, Yohann Elbaz, a lawyer, is also charge with fraud. The Elbaz brothers are out on bail while they await trial. Several executives of SNC-Lavalin, the company that allegedly paid the funds, are also charged, including former CEO Pierre Duhaime.
Dr. Porter's wife, Pamela Porter, pleaded guilty last month and was sentenced to a 33-month prison sentence after she admitted she was "willfully blind" to the scheme.
In one document released for public consumption Monday, an investigator alleges a company set up by the Elbaz brothers in the Bahamas transferred $2-million to the Swiss bank account of another company controlled by them.
That year, $250,000 was allegedly sent from the Elbaz-controlled company to an account in Lichtenstein held by Dr. Porter. Dozens of other transactions cannot be reported.