Skip to main content

Conservative MP Julian Fantino speaks to members of the defence and security industries about procurement of the F35 joint strike fighter in Ottawa, Friday March 16, 2012.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The federal ethics commissioner will not investigate a Conservative cabinet minister after determining that documents purporting to show undisclosed bank accounts in the Cayman Islands are fakes.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner notified Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino on Thursday afternoon that investigators have confirmed bank records purporting to be from offshore accounts are in fact forgeries.

"My office has received confirmation from UBS Wealth Management that the account statements are not authentic," Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson wrote to Mr. Fantino.

"Based on the information before me I do not have reason to pursue this matter further."

The minister's office provided The Canadian Press with a copy of the letter.

While the ethics commissioner has now closed her file, the RCMP continues to look into a complaint from Mr. Fantino about possible mistaken identity, or identity theft.

A spokesman for Mr. Fantino, who as associate defence minister is in charge of buying military equipment, said the matter was being taken very seriously.

"It is clear that the minister has been targeted with mischief," Chris McCluskey said in an email.

Ms. Dawson's office opened a file in March after receiving documents from former Conservative candidate Richard Lorello that purported to show offshore bank accounts and wire transfers under the minister's name.

Mr. Lorello ran unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in Vaughan, Ont., in 2008. Mr. Fantino subsequently won a 2010 by-election to become that riding's member of Parliament.

Mr. Lorello later resigned from the Conservative riding association in Vaughan over what he says were concerns about a multimillion-dollar government grant to the Vaughan Health Campus of Care.

He and two other ex-members of the riding association are embroiled in a bitter dispute with the current local executive. The three former riding association members have all sworn affidavits alleging possible irregularities in Mr. Fantino's by-election and 2011 federal election campaigns. Elections Canada is reviewing those complaints. Mr. Fantino's office has denied those allegations.

Mr. Lorello says someone sent him documents last year that purported to show Mr. Fantino had several Cayman bank accounts. The minister has not disclosed any offshore accounts in his conflict-of-interest declaration for the ethics commissioner's public registry.

Ms. Dawson's office put two investigators on the case, Marie-Josee Smith and Eppo Maertens, director of reports and investigations. After checking with several banks, the investigators determined the documents are forgeries.

Mr. Lorello has said he sent the documents to the ethics commissioner and the Canada Revenue Agency not knowing whether they were real or fake.

He told The Canadian Press last week that he was not alleging any wrongdoing on Mr. Fantino's part, and merely wanted the ethics commissioner to look into the matter.

He has refused to give investigators the e-mail address of the person who sent him the documents.

"Although I do not know the source, I cannot provide the email address of the source either, due to the fact that I would be betraying a trust and the source does not wish to come forward at this time," Mr. Lorello wrote to Ms. Smith last month.

"The source has provided the information to me in good faith and I as a citizen have provided the information to the proper Canadian authorities, including the Office of the Ethics Commissioner because I feel that it is my duty to do so."

Mr. Fantino's spokesman said the minister was urging Mr. Lorello to reveal his source to police.