Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal is facing five criminal charges in relation to personal loans he incurred while in office.
On Friday, the RCMP’s national division charged Mr. Grewal with four counts of breach of trust and one count of fraud over $5,000. Mr. Grewal is also in the midst of proceedings at Ontario’s Law Society Tribunal, in which he is accused of defrauding or using false pretenses to borrow or obtain $1.2-million. The tribunal’s notice of application alleges the incidents occurred when Mr. Grewal was a Liberal MP.
Mr. Grewal’s lawyer, Nader Hasan, said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that his client strongly denies the allegations. He added that, based on the information his office has received, “the Law Society allegations and RCMP allegations relate to the same subject matter.”
Mr. Grewal, 35, is a practising lawyer in Brampton, Ont. He worked as a lawyer while he was also an MP.
The RCMP alleged in a news release that Mr. Grewal failed to report millions of dollars in personal loans to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner “in circumstances that constitute a criminal breach of trust.”
The Mounties also allege Mr. Grewal used his public office to solicit loans for his personal benefit and that he used his constituency office budget for his personal benefit. Those actions amounted to criminal fraud or breach of trust, the RCMP said.
The allegations from the RCMP and the Law Society Tribunal have not been proven in court.
“Mr. Grewal adamantly denies these allegations – as he has done steadfastly since 2018. He looks forward to having his day in court and clearing his name,” Mr. Hasan said in a statement.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the Liberal Party of Canada referred questions about the case to the RCMP and declined to comment on Friday because the matter is before the courts. The RCMP said Mr. Grewal is expected to appear in court in Ottawa on Oct. 6.
Mr. Grewal was one of many rookie MPs to join the government benches after the election of October, 2015, but he resigned from the Liberal caucus in November, 2018, to sit as an independent. He did not seek re-election last year.
At the time of his resignation, Mr. Grewal said his exit from the Liberal caucus was for “personal and medical reasons.” A few weeks later, on Nov. 30, 2018, he released a video statement saying he accumulated millions of dollars in debt, all of which had been paid back and could be traced. In the video, Mr. Grewal said he began playing the card game blackjack in 2016 at Quebec’s Casino du Lac-Leamy, across the river from Parliament Hill.
This habit caused him to borrow millions of dollars “solely from friends and family to continue to fuel the gambling,” Mr. Grewal said. He added that every loan was in the form of a cheque and that the debts were repaid. He apologized to his family, saying they bailed him out.
“This has nothing to do at all with anything sinister except to feed my own addiction,” Mr. Grewal said at the time.
A notice of application against Mr. Grewal was filed with the Law Society Tribunal on Aug. 10. His first meeting with an adjudicator is set for Sept. 21 in Toronto.
The application accuses him of breaching the Law Society Act by engaging in professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming. It alleges Mr. Grewal “defrauded six individuals, who were not clients, or otherwise acted without integrity, by using false pretenses to obtain or borrow money from them.”
The document says the alleged misconduct against the individuals began in June, 2016, and ended in December, 2017. It says the amounts varied between $50,000 and $250,000 for a total of $1-million.
In addition, the notice of application accuses Mr. Grewal of defrauding a corporation or using false pretenses to borrow $200,000 in February, 2018, less than two weeks before he joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a trip to India. The document says the corporation may or may not have been a client at the time.
Mr. Hasan said the former MP “adamantly denies the Law Society’s allegations.”
In 2018, Mr. Trudeau said he only learned in November that Mr. Grewal was “facing serious personal challenges.”
Mr. Grewal is not the only former Liberal MP facing criminal charges. In June, Ontario MP Marwan Tabbara resigned from the Liberal caucus after he was charged with assault, breaking and entering and harassment. Mr. Tabbara is sitting as an independent MP.
In their Friday statement, the RCMP said the charges against Mr. Grewal complete an investigation that began in September, 2017. The probe was triggered by information about “suspicious transactions” that the Mounties received from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the regulator that collects data on exchanges of more than $10,000 at financial institutions and casinos.
The probe was conducted by the Mounties' Sensitive and International Investigations section, which works on “criminal activity that poses a threat to Canada’s government institutions, public officials, the integrity of the Crown, or that imperils Canada’s political, economic or social integrity.”
Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.