I do hope someone is securing the rights to make a Made In Canada thriller about Stephen Harper’s spy watchdog and his various business associates.
I’m referring of course to the Honorable Dr. Arthur Porter, “His Excellency, Ambassador Plenipotentiary, Republic of Sierra Leone” and also “Member, Queen’s Privy Council for Canada” for life.
Really, this cast of characters has everything — spies, dictators, terrorists, Russians, drug cartels, arms dealers, diamond mines, bribery, money laundering.
Here’s a storyboard to get you started . . .
2008: Dr. Arthur Porter is appointed to five-member CSIS watchdog committee, SIRC, on recommendation of PMO.
June 2009: SIRC committee member Arthur Porter appointed to lead investigation into complaint CSIS “was complicit in the detention” of Abdelrazik six years previously.
June 2010: Porter promoted to Chair of SIRC by Harper.
Also in June 2010, Porter wired $200,000 in personal funds to former Israeli agent and international lobbyist/arms dealer Ari Ben-Menashe to secure a $120-million grant from Russia to build Russian port facilities in Porter’s native Sierra Leone where his family have diamond mining interests. The offshore payment was made via one of Porter’s private companies, the Africa Infrastructure Group, but the deal fell through.
Mr. Ben-Menashe was charged in the US in 1989 with illegally attempting to sell three military transport airplanes to Iran but acquitted on the grounds he was acting on official Government of Israel business.
Ben-Menashe testified he had personally witnessed George H. W. Bush attend a meeting with members of the Iranian government in Paris in October 1980, as part of a covert Republican Party operation — the so-called October Surprise — to have the 52 U.S hostages then held in Iran remain there until President Jimmy Carter, who was negotiating their release, had lost the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan.
His house in Montreal was fire-bombed this past December.
During Porter’s 2004-2011 tenure as CEO at McGill University Health Centre, two former top executives at SNC-Lavalin allegedly authorized $22.5 million in payments related to getting the contract for a $1.3-billion superhospital expansion to Porter who was head of the selection committee. Payments were made to Sierra Asset Management Inc. in the Bahamas at a bank run by a business associate of Porter’s.
November 2011: Porter resigned from SIRC following the NatPo story on his dealings with Ben-Menashe and a month later from his position as CEO of McGill University Health Centre, where he left behind $300,000 in personal debts and a hospital with a $115-million deficit .
According to the McGill Daily, Porter sold the condo McGill fronted him half a million bucks to buy without paying back the $800,000 loan on the place.
Feb 2013: Arrest warrants issued for Porter for defrauding the government, accepting bribes, and money laundering in connection with alleged SNC Lavalin $22-million kickback to Porter via Sierra Assets Management to secure the hospital contract. Also on the arrest warrant:
- Former MUHC director Yanai Elbaz.
- Former CEO of SNC-Lavalin Pierre Duhaime
- Former SNC-Lavalin VP Riadh Ben Aissa, in jail in Switzerland for the past year on suspicion of making bribes in return for contracts in Libya
- Jeremy Morris, Sierra Asset Management, Bahamas,
SNC-Lavalin signed a deal to award Sierra Assets Management, formed in November 2009, three payments totaling $10-million for consultancy fees regarding a gas project in Algeria. The $1.2 billion Rhourde Nouss gas project deal was awarded to SNC the same year by Sonatrach, Algeria’s national oil company.
Last Monday Algerian police raided SNC offices in Algiers regarding “allegations of bribery and kickbacks involving Sonatrach and public officials and agents hired by SNC-Lavalin to procure a number of large infrastructure projects.”
FINTRAC, the Canadian federal agency that monitors money laundering, is investigating a trail of SNC payments to Porter and later Sierra Asset Management from 2007 to June 2012, six months after Porter left MUHC.
On May 27 Porter and his wife were arrested in Panama and are fighting extradition to Canada. Porter has stated he is too ill to leave his home in the Bahamas to fly all the way to Montreal to face charges. However he was seemingly well enough to embark on a business trip 1½ times that distance from Bahamas to Antigua, but was unfortunately nabbed en route in Panama.
Porter’s Panamanian lawyer, Ricardo Bilonick Paredes, a former ambassador of Panama, testified at Manuel Noriega’s 1991 trial that he:
“acted as a middleman between Manuel Noriega and Colombian drug cartels in the 1980s . . . passing millions of dollars in bribes to Noriega, in exchange for the ability to fly planes packed with tons of cocaine from Panama to the United States.”
Dr. Karol Sikora, Porter’s business partner at his medical cancer clinic in the Bahamas, was hired by the son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2009 to give a medical opinion on the condition of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrah — in prison for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Sikora secured al-Megrah’s release from prison on compassionate grounds, testifying that he only had three months to live. Al-Megrahi lived another three years.
Currently Sikora is arguing Porter’s self-diagnosed stage four lung cancer means he will not live long enough to stand trial.
Some have questioned how Steve could have displayed the poor judgement to appoint Dr. Arthur Porter, multinational man of mystery, to head up a sensitive position at SIRC giving him access to both Canadian and American intelligence.