Police are probing what they believe are links between Arthur Porter, Canada’s former spy watchdog, and a company that is at the centre of a massive alleged fraud at Montreal’s English-speaking hospital network.
Investigators have traced this company to a pale-yellow building in the Bahamas that serves as a branch of a Swiss bank – a bank branch that has a number of connections to Dr. Porter, two sources close to the probe have told The Globe and Mail.
The Nassau address registered for Sierra is the same as the Bahamas office of Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique – a bank branch managed by a man Dr. Porter knows well, Hermann-Josef Hermanns. Dr. Porter has alluded, in the past, to using Mr. Hermann’s bank for his private businesses.
The bank is a few kilometres from Dr. Porter’s private cancer clinic in the Bahamas, where he now resides with his family. Sierra Asset Management’s name is also reminiscent of Dr. Porter’s place of birth, the west African country of Sierra Leone.
Corporations domiciled in the Bahamas are not required to list the names of their owners in publicly available records. And in many offshore jurisdictions that have strict secrecy provisions such as the Bahamas, if people want to further conceal their involvement with a company they often enlist, for a fee, an official known as a nominee director who acts as a contact person for the company, but in fact knows little or nothing about its activities.
Porter is the target of three lawsuits, all claiming that he has defaulted on loan payments that were made to him while he was in Montreal. The Quebec government has also released a report accusing him of allowing the McGill University Health Centre to slip into financial disarray and has assigned the network of six hospitals a special financial overseer, a move the government says is one step short of trusteeship.
BY: GREG McARTHUR
The Globe and Mail