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Schreiber doesn't expect hasty extradition

German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber testifies at the Oliphant Commission in Ottawa April 15, 2009. The commission is probing Schreiber's business dealings with former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Blair Gable/REUTERS/Blair Gable

Karlheinz Schreiber hasn't packed a suitcase for Germany now that public hearings on his financial dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney have drawn to a close.

The federal government allowed Mr. Schreiber to stay in Canada long enough to give evidence at the inquiry, which held its final hearing Tuesday.

But the 75-year-old German-Canadian businessman said he isn't expecting a quick extradition to Germany, where he's wanted on charges of fraud, bribery, corruption and tax evasion.

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Asked if he'd packed his bags ahead of the inquiry's last day, Mr. Schreiber replied: "Oh, no."

"We have all kinds of legal issues still with the minister open," he said later.

"And we have the last decision from the courts. So we have to wait what the directions are and then we go from there."

He was referring to an action his lawyers filed in Ontario Court of Appeal raising new legal arguments against extradition.

If the appeal court agrees to deal with the matter it could mean a further delay in deciding his fate.

Mr. Schreiber was arrested under the Extradition Act in August of 1999 and has been vigorously fighting to stay in Canada through what Justice Department lawyers called "legal acrobatics."

Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, who is heading the inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, urged Justice Minister Rob Nicholson last month to stave any removal order until the factual part of the hearings ended in late June.

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Judge Oliphant has until Dec. 31 to deliver his report.

The main focus of Judge Oliphant's work has been the so-called Bear Head project in which the German firm Thyssen AG was to set up a plant in Canada to build and export light-armoured vehicles.

Mr. Mulroney has admitted taking $225,000 in cash from Mr. Schreiber but says he broke no laws or ethical guidelines. He says he merely tried to line up support from political leaders in Russia, China and France for a proposed UN purchase of the vehicles for peacekeeping work.

Mr. Schreiber says the payments totalled $300,000, not the $225,000 Mr. Mulroney later declared for tax purposes.

He also maintains the former prime minister was supposed to lobby Canadian officials, not foreign leaders.

The affair has raised questions about whether current ethics rules - especially those governing politicians once they leave office - should be strengthened to head off similar controversies in future.

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Tuesday was the last of four days of hearings focusing on broad issues of federal ethics policy.

The inquiry heard from Sue Gray, the head of the British cabinet office's propriety and ethics team, and Mary Dawson, Canada's ethics commissioner.

In Britain, Ms. Gray explained, public servants who leave office must seek advice from a special committee before taking a job in the private sector. The committee may approve, reject or apply conditions the job. The committee also posts the new workplaces of former civil servants on a website.

"Not going to the advisory and taking up a job without their approval is quite a big issue in the U.K. and does get media coverage," Ms. Gray said.

In Canada, Ms. Dawson said, departing public servants get a letter outlining their obligations, but they are not required to follow up with her office.

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