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McGill suing former CEO for repayment of loan, salary

The McGill campus

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

McGill University is suing a former star of the Canadian medical establishment for $317,154, saying he has reneged on a loan and collected salary he should have never been paid.

The university filed the suit against Arthur Porter – who left the country and his job as CEO of the McGill University Health Centre under a cloud – alleging that he failed to repay $287,000 of a $500,000 low-interest loan the university provided him in 2008 to help pay for real estate.

The court documents say the university also paid him $50,000 in salary (his take after deductions was $30,000) from May to September, 2012 – long after his resignation in December, 2011.

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Officials at McGill declined to answer questions. Telephone and email messages left for Dr. Porter were not answered.

Dr. Porter was hired to lead the billion-dollar construction of one of two new mega-hospitals. Police are investigating the awarding of the bulk of the contract to Montreal engineering firm SNC Lavalin Group Inc., which took place while he was CEO. Investigators from the province's anti-corruption squad raided the MUHC headquarters earlier this fall.

Dr. Porter now runs cancer centres in the Caribbean and has addresses listed in Sierra Leone and Bahamas.

Dr. Porter was also caught up in a national controversy. He had been appointed chairman of the federal security-intelligence watchdog when it was revealed he had done business with an African arms dealer. He stepped down from that job in 2011 as well.

The lawsuit says that in October last year, the university wrote to Dr. Porter asking him to repay the loan and the salary. According to the documents filed in court, Dr. Porter replied by e-mail that he intended to repay the amount from a family business in Sierra Leone. The court documents say he was never heard from again, but a statement on Tuesday from the university says it received word from Dr. Porter recently, who repeated a promise to repay, but the amount remains outstanding.

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