Dr. Arthur T. Porter

Written by  //  August 5, 2017  //  Health & Health care, Montreal  //  No comments

Arthur Porter: timeline of a corruption scandal

2017

4 August

Charges officially abandoned against Arthur Porter, two years after his death

Porter had been the key suspect in what is considered the largest corruption case in Canadian history
(CBC) Criminal charges against the doctor accused of committing what Quebec authorities described as the biggest corruption fraud in Canada’s history have officially been abandoned, two years after his death, the Crown announced Friday.
Crown prosecutor Nathalie Kleber said she filed Arthur Porter’s death certificate in court after receiving confirmation of its authenticity from authorities in Panama.
Kleber said the charges against Porter’s other co-accused will remain, with the case set to resume Sept. 27.

5 June
Enigma of Arthur Porter extends beyond the grave
News Quebec’s Crown prosecutors are waiting for an official death certificate from Panama two years after Arthur Porter’s demise is fuelling speculation — some of it tongue in cheek — the former head of the McGill University Health Centre might still be alive.
“We can’t close the file as long as we don’t have the official confirmation,” Nathalie Kleber, the prosecutor in charge of the Porter case, said in an interview last week. “As a general rule, we don’t withdraw (the criminal charges) as long as we don’t have an authentic document proving the death.”
The Montreal Gazette has since learned Quebec’s anti-corruption UPAC squad has still not received the DNA tests results from Panama to confirm Porter’s death, although provincial police investigators say they do believe Porter is dead.
His longtime friend and physician, Karol Sikora, released a statement on July 1, 2015, saying Porter had died at the stroke of midnight at the Panama City National Cancer Centre. Sikora had said previously Porter had been suffering from metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
The time of Porter’s death would later be revised to around 11 p.m., June 30. On July 3 of that year, two UPAC investigators who flew to Panama said they positively identified Porter’s body in a morgue.

2015

18 July
Arthur Porter: Charming, intelligent leader fell from grace
By LISA FITTERMAN
(Globe & Mail) “My entire life has been devoted to climbing, winning and succeeding,” he wrote in his memoir. “But with the end drawing near, it is inevitable that I, like anyone else, wonder if what I have accomplished truly matters. I wonder how I will be remembered.”
Eric Maldoff, a prominent Montreal lawyer and member of the MUHC search committee that reportedly pushed to omit Dr. Porter’s name from the list because of problems he’d had in Detroit, was diplomatic when The Globe and Mail contacted him this week.
“Arthur was a very energetic, smart, charming, strategic and driven person. He really wanted to be liked and he had a profound need for recognition,” Mr. Maldoff said. “The hospital is up and running and no doubt he played a crucial role in moving it forward. It’s a vast improvement over what we had before and it forms a very solid basis for the future.”

7 July
UPAC investigators get proof of Porter’s death
For the UPAC at least, the news ends rampant speculation that Arthur Porter somehow faked his death — and escaped the hospital where he has been staying since May.
A week after Porter was first reported dead, of lung cancer in a Panama hospital, the legal case against him is now officially closed.
But in a statement issued Tuesday, Lafrenière said the investigation into the McGill University Health Centre bribery scandal will continue, and accusations still stand against Porter’s seven alleged accomplices.

3 July
RCMP probed appointment of Arthur Porter to spy watchdog
(Globe & Mail) Given the allegations involving Dr. Porter in Montreal, the RCMP launched an investigation to determine if there was any wrongdoing related to his appointment to SIRC or his promotion as the agency’s chair in 2010.
The probe brought the RCMP into the highest echelons of the Harper government. The file was eventually closed without any evidence of wrongdoing or any charges being laid, a government official said. …
By joining SIRC, Dr. Porter became an “honourable” member of the Privy Council. According to protocol, the flag on the Peace Tower should be flown at half-mast on the day of his funeral. However, federal sources said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to deny the honour to Dr. Porter, whose death was announced on Wednesday. Interesting that there are those who are not fully convinced that he is dead Quebec anti-corruption squad heading to Panama to get evidence of Porter death

In this photo taken Saturday, March 2, 2013, Dr. Arthur Porter speaks with a reporter at his home in Nassau, Bahamas. Porter -- a cancer specialist who was facing fraud charges related to a $1.3-billion hospital project in Montreal -- has died, his biographer says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jeff Todd

In this photo taken Saturday, March 2, 2013, Dr. Arthur Porter speaks with a reporter at his home in Nassau, Bahamas. Porter — a cancer specialist who was facing fraud charges related to a $1.3-billion hospital project in Montreal — has died, his biographer says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jeff Todd

R.I.P. Arthur Porter, international man of mystery
By Anne Lagacé Dowson
(iPolitics) Arthur Porter, who died yesterday in Panama according to his wife Pamela, was a great actor. His performances were such that he fooled everyone around him, especially the people who run our greatest institutions and governments..
“His is a cautionary tale about the weaknesses in our systems of hiring and management.” I would have added a qualifier as in “at the highest levels”; it never ceases to amaze me that we put junior employees through incredible hoops and so often ignore all the safeguards with the most senior executives.

2 July
Arthur Porter’s death in Panama leaves lingering questions about McGill, extradition
McGill University Health Centre ex-CEO hinted at others involved in alleged $22.5M kickback scheme
(CBC) Why didn’t he return to Canada to fight charges of fraud? Had he returned to Montreal, he could have been released on bail while awaiting trial and had better medical care available to him.
Instead, he lingered for two years in arguably one of the world’s worst jails, stuck in a small unsanitary cell with several other inmates, treating himself with the latest chemotherapy drugs his daughters could bring to him.
Why did the highly intelligent Porter languish for two years in Panama without getting any court dates to challenge his extradition to Canada?
Panama ignored its own extradition laws, and Canada did not press to have his case handled quickly.
At the very least, that seems curious, given that Porter was still a privy councillor. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had appointed him to the Security Intelligence Review Committee in 2008.
And what secrets did he take to his grave? He became chairman of SIRC before resigning in late 2011, so he was in a position to be aware of Canada’s spy secrets. He was also an active supporter of the Conservative Party and hinted to CBC News that he had much to tell that would make people in Ottawa uncomfortable.

1 July
Aaron Derfel Obituary: The rise, fall and death of Arthur Porter
“Many people have been in and out of my life; a handful of enemies, a great deal of ‘frenemies.’ And just a few close friends.” — Arthur Porter in his memoir
(Montreal Gazette) At the peak of his power, Arthur Porter enjoyed the rarefied luxuries of a Caribbean villa and a chauffeur-driven Bentley, boasting of contacts with heads of state from around the world — including no less than the prime minister of Canada.
But as meteoric as Porter’s rise was to the heights of power, so was his fall from grace. In the last two years of his life, the former CEO of the McGill University Health Centre languished in a cutthroat jail in Panama, fighting for his survival as lung cancer spread to his bones and ultimately led to his death on Tuesday.
The ironies abound: a radiation oncologist by training and founder of a cancer clinic in the Bahamas, the 59-year-old Porter ended up as a cancer patient himself, complaining that he was being deprived of medical treatment in La Joya prison even as skeptics suspected he was faking his illness.
The man who so assiduously courted politicians — from Stephen Harper to Philippe Couillard (when he served as health minister in the mid-2000s) — later became a political pariah after a warrant was issued for his arrest more than two years ago on corruption charges.
And those charges stem from arguably the greatest irony of Porter’s fulsome life: the $1.3-billion superhospital of the MUHC. Porter was the driving force behind the superhospital, a project that was so costly that successive provincial governments — Liberal and Parti Québécois alike — passed on it for more than a decade before he helped win its approval.
Yet that same project proved to be Porter’s undoing after provincial police alleged that he accepted $22.5 million in bribes in exchange for rigging the bidding process to award the construction contract to engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
A gleaming structure clad in multicolored aluminum, the superhospital is Canada’s most modern health-care facility. But the bidding competition that led to the superhospital’s creation is also what one police investigator has described as the “largest corruption fraud in Canadian history.” And for much of the project’s history — save for the last two years of the hospital’s construction — the flamboyant Porter was front and centre.
“The McGill University Health Centre will perhaps always inspire question marks and conspiracy theories among Quebecers and other Canadians,” Porter wrote in his memoir, The Man Behind the Bow Tie, published a year ago.
“The project took on a life of its own, to the point where it was rumoured that I was 7-foot-5 and could shoot icicles out of my eyes. But above all the noise, that hospital will still be there. It will stand the test of time.”
Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on June 11, 1956, Arthur Porter IV and his sister were raised in a well-to-do family in the impoverished West African nation. His father, who now lives in Ottawa, is a respected historian and anthropologist; his Danish mother had studied nursing at Cambridge University.
In 1975, Porter followed in his father’s footsteps by studying at Cambridge, where he met his wife, Pamela Mattock.
(In yet another cruel irony, Porter, a self-described family man and father of four daughters, had not spoken to his wife since she was extradited to Quebec in June 2013 on criminal charges for her role in the alleged MUHC fraud. Pamela Porter pleaded guilty last December to money-laundering, was sentenced to two years in jail, but has since been transferred to a halfway house. The Porter family that once held dinner parties in the Bahamas is now split apart: the father deceased; the mother living temporarily in Quebec; and the adult daughters having to relocate to other homes in the United States and the Bahamas after Canadian authorities moved to seize properties that are considered “the proceeds of crime” from the alleged MUHC conspiracy.)
While studying anatomy at Cambridge, Porter took to wearing the bow tie that became his sartorial signature and picked up the British accent, evoking the air of a genteel physician. But friends and associates recall another side to Porter: he liked his drink, was prone to a ribald sense of humour, and above all else, he was shrewd to the point of Machiavellian.
A few years after acquiring his medical degree, Porter and his wife moved to Detroit where he practised in that city’s debt-ridden hospital. It was in Detroit that Porter began developing political contacts, raising funds for the Republican Party. In 1999, he was appointed head of the Detroit Medical Centre; four years later, the MUHC hired Porter to jump-start the stalled superhospital project despite his controversial tenure in the Motor City.
Almost as soon as he arrived in Montreal in 2004, Porter resumed nurturing close ties to the political parties in power. During his time at the MUHC, Porter attended a garden party hosted by Harper and founded a consulting company with Couillard in 2009, almost a year after Couillard left public office.
(That company was later dissolved, long before Couillard ran for the Quebec Liberal Party leadership and was elected Quebec premier. Couillard has since distanced himself from Porter, saying he was “fooled” by Porter’s charm, adding he belongs to a list that includes other politicians and heads of state.)
On June 24, 2010, Harper appointed Porter chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), Canada’s spy watchdog, entrusted with the nation’s most sensitive secrets, despite Porter’s lack of experience in security matters. A year later, Porter resigned the SIRC chairmanship after the National Post revealed that he had wired $200,000 in personal funds to a former international arms broker for an infrastructure deal in Sierra Leone that fell through.
Porter also quit the MUHC amid concerns he was involved in too many private business deals. He returned to the Bahamas, where he announced in January 2013 that he had lung cancer. Four months later, Porter and his wife were arrested by Interpol agents at Panama’s international airport on the MUHC warrants. Among Porter’s belongings was a passport from Sierra Leone which he claimed gave him diplomatic status.
In total, nine people were charged in the alleged MUHC scheme, including two other former MUHC executives and three ex-SNC-Lavalin ones. Porter was the only one not to appear in Quebec to formally answer to the charges. In an apparent final act of defiance, Porter chose to fight cancer in a filthy Panamanian prison — all the while maintaining his innocence — than be extradited to Quebec and receive proper medical care, with easy access to his family.
Porter once professed to harbour secrets that could be politically damaging in Canada. However, he was also known for his bombast. Still, if he were to be believed, Porter carried those secrets to his grave.

Arthur Porter, ex-McGill hospital CEO accused in $22.5M kickback scheme, dies in Panama
(CBC) Arthur Porter, the former hospital administrator at Montreal’s McGill University who was accused in a $22.5-million kickback scheme, has died in a Panama City hospital following a battle with cancer.
He was 59.
Pamela Porter, his wife, confirmed the death to CBC News this morning, saying two of Arthur’s four daughters will be leaving soon for Panama to retrieve his body.

Dr. Karol Sikora, a U.K. cancer specialist and longtime friend of Arthur Porter, said Porter died of metastatic lung cancer at 11 p.m. local time Tuesday.
Porter, a cancer specialist, had been diagnosed with the disease in 2012. After he was arrested on an international warrant in Panama City in May 2013, he treated himself with experimental drugs while in La Joya prison and fighting extradition to Canada..
In recent weeks, he was moved to Santo Tomas Oncology Hospital for diagnostic work.

10 April
Arthur Porter, ex-hospital chief, wants Stephen Harper to visit him in Panama jail
Canada is seeking extradition of former head of Montreal hospital
We are still waiting! Maybe Mr. Harper could just bring him home on the government plane?
17 January
Arthur Porter will be extradited to Canada to face corruption charges
La Presse is reporting that Panama has agreed to Porter’s extradition, where he has been in jail since his arrest in May 2013. La Presse Canadienne has independently confirmed the extradition as well. Porter is alleged to have orchestrated a payment system to funnel $22.5 million in bribes from former executives at engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
14 January
9999 city MUHC - 0800Peggy Curran: A letter to Arthur Porter
The trouble is, the new hospital has, through no fault of its own, become this terrible, glittering, symbol of everything that was wrong with the way contracts have been awarded in Quebec for the last 20 or 40 or maybe 100 years. … And that’s not what we want. We want to be able to marvel at the sparkling equipment, the elevators that work, to not have our experience at the at the new MUHC forever clouded by the fact that a bunch of folks lined their pockets.
9 January
New details emerge following Pamela Porter guilty plea
Additional portions of a “joint summary of facts” linked to Pamela Porter’s guilty plea have been made public.
Following a court challenge initiated by several local media outlets, the Montreal Gazette can now report new details regarding what the wife of former McGill University Health Centre director Arthur Porter admits she did to help funnel $22.5 million in bribe money from executives at the engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. …
Arthur Porter, who was arrested with his wife in May 2013, remains in a Panamanian jail awaiting extradition to Canada. He is alleged to have orchestrated a complex series of financial transactions that allowed bribe money from SNC-Lavalin executives to be transferred to companies registered to Porter, his wife, MUHC administrator Yanaï Elbaz and the latter’s brother, Yohann Elbaz. The bribe was allegedly paid in exchange for SNC-Lavalin’s securing of the contract to build the MUHC’s new superhospital.

2014

5 December
Arthur Porter’s wife expected to plead guilty Dec. 18
In a surprise twist to the saga of accused hospital swindler Arthur Porter, his wife is expected to enter a guilty plea on Dec. 18 to criminal charges arising from the superhospital contract of the McGill University Health Centre, a Crown prosecutor confirmed on Friday.
Pamela Mattock Porter appeared briefly before Quebec Court judge Claude Leblond on Thursday, while her lawyer, Marc-Antoine Carrette, explained her intention to plead guilty.
She is accused of money laundering and conspiracy stemming from the superhospital construction contract. She is also accused of an additional charge of money laundering based on allegations she used the proceeds of crime to help pay for a $250,000 bail bond while awaiting trial.
9 September
Arthur Porter dishes dirt on Harper, Couillard
Book offers no supporting documents and contains some outrageous claims
(Montreal Gazette) These are some of the startling claims in the 240-page book, The Man Behind the Bow Tie: Arthur Porter On Business, Politics And Intrigue:
Porter says Harper urged him in 2009 to discretely lobby African and Caribbean nations in what proved to be an unsuccessful campaign the following year to win Canada a coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council. He blames Harper for the UN failure, saying the prime minister “faltered … in the international arena.”
Porter’s relationship with Couillard, who was Quebec’s health minister at the time, appears to be far more extensive than previously thought. Not only did Couillard and Porter go on fishing trips when Porter served as chief executive officer of the MUHC, he says, but Porter claims that Couillard phoned him every day for political advice. “Indeed, there was a period when Couillard called me every day, asking what I thought about this issue or that decision. He craved approval, I realized.”
12 July
Porter defies cancer odds in Panama jail
(Montreal Gazette) It’s been nearly 14 months since accused hospital fraudster Arthur Porter — who says he’s suffering from Stage IV lung cancer that has spread to his liver, abdomen and bones — was arrested in Panama and incarcerated in La Joya, a prison that is notorious for its unsanitary conditions.
During his imprisonment, Porter’s lawyer says his client has been denied medical treatment for his cancer, has not once been examined by a doctor and has not been allowed to undergo a medical-imaging scan to determine whether the “cannonball”-size tumours in his liver have grown or regressed.
Porter’s lawyer still waiting for word from Panama on extradition — The Supreme Court of Panama has yet to rule on whether accused hospital fraudster Arthur Porter can be extradited to Canada even though his lawyer filed a motion against the transfer more than eight months ago.
7 July
MUHC hires pricey image consultant
In an effort to improve its image in the wake of the Arthur Porter fraud scandal and the Charbonneau Commission, the MUHC has hired some expensive outside help.
Jonathan Goldbloom, an expert in crisis management and strategic communication, has had a long relationship with the MUHC. His current two-year, $600,000 contract was granted without tender shortly after former CEO Arthur Porter’s arrest in May of last year.
The allegations have hit the superhospital hard, claiming its own PR staff of fifteen is not sufficient to re-work the hospital’s image.
26 May
Porter criticizes Charbonneau Inquiry for calling superhospital work corrupt
(CTV) Former McGill hospital boss Arthur Porter is hitting back at Quebec’s corruption inquiry over how it portrayed the creation of Montreal’s superhospital.
Porter, the controversial former hospital administrator, took the Charbonneau Commission to task on Monday for its examination of the awarding of the $1.3-billion Montreal superhospital contract.
His criticism came in an interview published on a website run by the Porter family in support of the patriarch.
The lucrative contract, finalized in 2010, is the subject of alleged fraud of $22.5 million involving Porter and seven other people, including former SNC-Lavalin executives.
The ex-SNC-Lavalin executives are accused of funnelling money to former McGill hospital officials Porter and Yanai Elbaz in exchange for the contract, which the Montreal engineering giant obtained.
Porter, 57, faces charges that include fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and breach of trust. He has denied any wrongdoing as he continues to fight extradition to Canada from a Panamanian prison.
He slammed the commission’s approach to tackling the hospital contract case. The inquiry, which has wrapped up studying the deal, heard from about 10 witnesses over the span of a week. Lavish expense claims perfectly normal, Porter says
16 May
Arthur Porter by PascalTestimony details issues with MUHC’s parking lot
Police believe head of hospital took kickback to award contract
(Montreal Gazette) Police believe that former MUHC head Arthur Porter accepted a kickback of $22.5 million in exchange for ensuring that a consortium headed by engineering powerhouse SNC-Lavalin secured the contract to build the hospital.
Eight people, including Porter, have been charged in connection with the alleged plot. Porter remains in a Panamanian jail fighting extradition.
The parking structure fiasco is one of the ways MUHC planners and SNC representatives were able to alter the rules in favour of the SNC consortium, the commission heard.

2013

See also: Montreal 2010-2012
How plans for a blue-chip Canadian firm to build a Montreal hospital became a scandal (3 March 2013)
4 October
Warning letter on appointing Arthur Porter to oversee spy agency raised no red flags
(Ottawa Citizen) As required by law, the PMO wrote to the leaders of the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois asking for their input on Porter’s appointment to the spy agency overview committee.
The Liberals and NDP raised no objections, saying they lacked information, but on Feb. 1, 2008, then-Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe wrote to Harper to oppose the appointment on the basis of Porter’s record during a period when he worked in Detroit. Duceppe pointed to “numerous problems: conflicts of interest, bad management and threatened guardianship.”
12 July
‘He bamboozled everyone’: Banker linked to Arthur Porter sees himself as ‘scapegoat’ in fraud scandal
The private banker who helped alleged fraudster Arthur Porter pursue offshore business activities and brought him into the Swiss-controlled bank where illegal kickbacks from a massive Quebec construction fraud were allegedly wired, has emerged from the shadows.
5 June
Wife of Arthur Porter agrees to voluntary extradition to Canada
(CBC) Lawyer for jailed couple says former head of MUHC will still fight to stay in Panama
30 May
Porter lobbied Cote d’Ivoire to become an honorary consul for corrupt African regime, but was deemed ‘not fit’
(National Post) Canada’s former spy watchdog has a curriculum vitae that’s 33 pages long.
Two weeks after Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) — the civilian agency that examines CSIS activities — Dr. Porter lobbied for another position: Honorary Consul General for Cote d’Ivoire, a notoriously corrupt and despotic African regime.
27 – 28 May
Diplomatic status delayed Arthur Porter’s arrest
When Interpol approached Arthur Porter late Sunday night at Panama’s international airport, the former CEO of the McGill University Health Centre flashed his diplomatic passport and checked in to a hotel, while his wife was taken into custody.
Pamela Mattock, Arthur Porter’s wife, kept low profile until this week … on Monday, Mattock’s name grabbed international headlines, along with Porter’s, when both were arrested by Interpol in Panama. Warrants had been issued for both on charges of money-laundering and conspiracy.

Aislin Arthur Porter arrestArthur Porter arrested in Panama on fraud, conspiracy charges
Former CEO of Montreal mega-hospital project and his wife arrested
(CBC) Arthur Porter has been detained by Panamanian authorities, along with his wife Pamela, several months after Quebec police announced they wanted to charge him in connection with the province’s ongoing corruption scandals.
The pair’s arrest was announced in a statement Monday by Quebec’s anti-corruption police watchdog, which said the operation was carried out with the help of the RCMP, Interpol and Quebec provincial police.
“Extradition proceedings are being undertaken against the two,” the statement said.
Porter is accused of being at the heart of a scandal involving the $1.3 billion McGill University Health Centre mega-hospital project in Montreal. He faces multiple charges … His wife is facing charges for laundering the proceeds of a crime and for conspiracy. Ex-head of Canadian spy watchdog Arthur Porter arrested in Panama
11 March
McGill hospital fraud suspect arrested in Montreal after arriving from Bahamas

The administrator of the mysterious company that is said to be behind the alleged $22.5-million fraud at Montreal’s massive new hospital complex was arrested Monday at Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport after arriving from the Bahamas.
Jeremy Morris, a resident of the Bahamas who, two sources say, is registered in official Bahamian documents as the principal behind a company called Sierra Asset Management is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. … Sources close to the probe have described Mr. Morris as a “strawman,” someone who on paper is the principal of Sierra. Investigators say the company was incorporated to disguise the flow of money from SNC-Lavalin to officials with the McGill University Health Centre.
4 March
La Presse rencontre Arthur Porter: «L’appel d’offres n’était pas truqué»
C’est un homme traqué par la police, miné par la maladie et traîné dans la boue depuis des mois qui répète sans cesse deux messages, le souffle court. Non, il n’a pas truqué l’appel d’offres du Centre universitaire de santé McGill (CUSM), et le jour où il déballera son sac, plusieurs personnes au Québec pourraient avoir de mauvaises surprises.
… Il refuse d’abord de se faire prendre en photo, mais accepte finalement, car il sait que plusieurs Québécois doutent de sa maladie, qu’il a diagnostiquée lui-même. «Je ne pense pas que quiconque peut feindre un cancer comme ça», ronchonne-t-il en se redressant péniblement sur sa chaise.
3 March
Former executive Ben Aissa ‘orchestrated the transfer’ of $22.5M from SNC to Bahamas: court documents
(National Post) The affidavit, parts of which remain redacted by court order, was … Used to obtain a warrant to search MUHC headquarters on Sept. 18, [and] contains allegations that have not been proven in court. Over 19 pages, it traces the money trail that allegedly began in SNC’s Tunisia office and ended up in bank accounts belonging to Dr. Porter and Mr. Elbaz.
28 February
Arthur Porter says he is too ill to travel to face Quebec fraud allegations
(Globe & Mail) Arthur Porter, the former head of Canada’s spy watchdog, says he has late, stage-four cancer and is too ill to travel from the Bahamas to Canada to face investigators over allegations of fraud in one of the country’s priciest infrastructure projects.
Dr. Porter said if Canadian investigators want to question him they should fly to the Bahamas.
photoArthur Porter, Canada’s Former Spy Watchdog, Is Now A Wanted Man In Quebec
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) The former head of the CSIS watchdog agency was among five people named in arrest warrants issued Wednesday by Quebec’s anti-corruption squad for allegations of fraud in one of the country’s most expensive infrastructure projects.
Arrest warrants issued for Arthur Porter, ex-SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime
(Globe & Mail) Quebec’s anti-corruption squad issued arrest warrants Wednesday for Dr. Arthur Porter and four other men embroiled in allegations of fraud swirling around the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal’s English-language hospital network.
Dr. Porter … and Yanai Elbaz, the MUHC’s director of redevelopment, face charges of committing fraud against the government, accepting bribes, and conspiracy.
Two high-profile former executives of Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, former CEO Pierre Duhaime and former construction head Riadh Ben Aïssa, are charged with fraud, conspiracy and paying bribes.
The fifth suspect named in the warrant issued Wednesday is a man named Jeremy Morris.
The Globe has learned, through a source, that a Jeremy J. Morris is registered as a principal of Sierra Asset Management Inc., a Bahamas-based firm central to the fraud allegation.
Sierra signed a contract with SNC-Lavalin in 2009 to help the engineering firm secure a deal to build a new facility for the McGill University Health Centre Forensic auditors called in by SNC-Lavalin’s board found that the engineering firm disbursed about $22.5-million as part of its contract with Sierra, but auditors could not find any evidence of the work that was performed.
MUHC
2 February
Kuwait deal uses MUHC doctors, nurses
Use of resources, transparency called into question
(Montreal Gazette) Under the deal, the MUHC is to be paid by the private company, Montreal Medical International Inc. (MMI). However, an accounting of those funds has never appeared on any MUHC annual reports or other public document. Both the MUHC and MMI have refused repeated requests by The Gazette for figures on financial benefits the MUHC might derive from the deal.
Quebec corporate records list a registered Canadian charity, Optimal Health Care Foundation, as the majority shareholder of MMI. However, more than midway through the Kuwaiti deal, the charity has not received a penny, and it has never disbursed any funds, show Revenue Canada records.
Dr. Michael Churchill-Smith, president of the “division of international affairs” for the MUHC, is president of MMI. Churchill-Smith told The Gazette that MUHC doctors and nurses travel to Kuwait, but could not provide an exact number of MUHC staff or the amount of time they spend there.
… Ian Soutar, vice-chairman of Pembroke Management Ltd. and treasurer of the board of the Optimal Health Care — the charity is the majority shareholder of MMI — explained that his charity will receive funds from MMI near the conclusion of the deal with Kuwait in 2015.
30 January
Porter’s Way: The rise and fall of Arthur Porter
(CBC) Terence McKenna’s documentary “Porter’s Way” is a close-up look at the amazing rise and fall of Arthur T. Porter. … Porter is now living in Nassau, Bahamas which is where Terence McKenna caught up with him. He finally agreed to sit down for an extensive, revealing interview with CBC Television’s The National.
14 January
Ex-McGill hospital boss says he was victim of ‘spurious’ attacks
Elusive Dr. Arthur Porter at cancer clinic in Bahamas
(CBC) One of the most elusive figures in Quebec’s growing number of corruption scandals has emerged after almost a year as a virtual fugitive.
In an exclusive interview with the CBC’s Terence McKenna, Dr. Arthur Porter, the former head of the McGill University Health Centre, defended himself against allegations of mismanagement and any wrongdoing in the construction of the new super-hospital in Montreal’s West end.
Last month, an official investigation by the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services blamed Dr. Porter and the former board of directors of the MUHC for massive cost overruns at MUHC, as well as a hospital deficit that could reach $115 million this year, a record for a Quebec hospital.
10 January
Update:  Scandal plagued former director-general of McGill Health Centre Arthur Porter diagnosed with cancer

2012

Dr Arthur Porter MUHC construction site

Excellent reporting by the Globe & Mail

Meet Arthur T. Porter, the man at the centre of one of Canada’s biggest health-care scandals

By GREG McARTHUR AND DAVID MONTERO, Globe & Mail
When Arthur T. Porter blew into Montreal to run the McGill University Health Centre in 2004, a well-spoken, deal-making whirlwind touched down on the city. The oncologist deftly worked the city’s cocktail party circuit, forging close ties with some of Quebec’s most influential people and securing several high-profile private- and public-sector positions: landing a spot on the board of Air Canada; forging relationships with a former premier as well as a Quebec Liberal health minister; and lastly – the appointment for which he is best known because it was handed to him by Prime Minister Stephen Harper – chairing the civilian committee that oversees Canada’s spies and how they gather secrets.
With his colourful bowties, immense frame and the air of grandeur that peppers his speech (“It’s not the sort of things one does, it’s really what one has been able to accomplish”), he quickly charmed much of Montreal’s anglophone establishment before he resigned his position this time last year and left the country.
But the problem with forces of nature that powerful is that they leave unseen cracks after they head out of town, and it wasn’t until this week that Montrealers realized just how much of a mess Dr. Porter left behind.
On Tuesday, the Quebec government released the results of an audit that found the MUHC’s planned deficit of $12-million has ballooned to $115-million – a financial state so precarious that the hospital network has been assigned a special overseer to monitor its spending. The Health Ministry called the move one step short of trusteeship.
But that’s just the beginning of the MUHC’s problems. Quebec’s anti-corruption task force has also alleged that the hospital network was the victim of fraud in connection with its planned $1.3-billion superhospital, which is due to be unveiled in 2015. In November, police charged two former executives at SNC-Lavalin, the engineering firm that was awarded the contract during Dr. Porter’s tenure, with multiple criminal charges, including fraud and using falsified documents.
As for Dr. Porter, his exact whereabouts are unknown. A few months ago, reporters with La Presse traced him to a gated community in the Bahamas, where he runs a private cancer clinic. When McGill University recently sued him for $317,000, most of which was provided as part of a low-interest loan, it filed e-mail exhibits in court where he claimed he had returned to his native country, Sierra Leone. He has not responded to numerous requests for interviews from The Globe and Mail, including phone calls, e-mails and one letter.
Meanwhile, the MUHC has said publicly that it is reconsidering its choice of name for the main street running into the new superhospital – Arthur Porter Way.
But what was Arthur Porter’s way? Is he to blame for all of this?
The Globe interviewed numerous people from Montreal’s medical community, including doctors, former executives and former directors at the MUHC, who had dealings with Dr. Porter. Most of them agreed to interviews on the condition that they would not be identified, explaining that they had not been given permission to speak publicly about closed-door meetings. What emerged is a portrait of a man obsessed with cultivating relationships, so much so that he created an environment at the MUHC that allowed him to exert control over the people, namely the board of directors, who were supposed to keep him in check.
That description comes as no surprise to the medical community in Detroit, where Dr. Porter first cut his teeth as a hospital administrator.
A cautionary message
It was in 2003 when John Crissman, the dean of the medical school at Michigan’s Wayne State University, received a call from a headhunting team from Montreal.
Dr. Crissman’s message about Dr. Porter was straightforward: Proceed with caution.
“Dr. Porter is a talented administrator but often dilutes his efforts,” Dr. Crissman recalled saying, trying his best to diplomatically wave red flags about Dr. Porter’s web of private business pursuits around the globe. “I told them to be very careful about their agreement and to include language to control Arthur’s multiple outside interests.”
Throughout Dr. Porter’s tenure as the CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, where Dr. Crissman was a board member, the hospital was under constant financial strain. A Cambridge-educated oncologist, Dr. Porter had been vaulted into the role of CEO after a private consulting group recommended a massive overhaul of the hospital network, a non-profit corporation that struggled to bring in revenue while serving some of America’s poorest neighbourhoods.
Dr. Porter acted decisively, and, by the time he was done trimming, he had reduced the size of the staff from 20,000 to 13,000. Those sorts of deep cuts usually bear a political price, but Dr. Porter had a unique talent for appeasing different sides. Born in the civil war-ravaged country of Sierra Leone, he connected well with the medical centre’s most important demographic – Detroit’s urban black community. Sources both in Montreal and Detroit said he was fond of describing his ability to bridge racial divides with an oft-repeated line: “I look black but I speak white.”
But it wasn’t his cost-cutting at the hospital, nor his remarkable rise from an impoverished African country, that pushed him onto the front pages of the local media. More often than not, he found himself in the news because of concerns about his ability to manage both the hospital and his many private investments.
By the end of his tenure, reporters with the Detroit Free Press, relying on public records, identified Dr. Porter and an associate as the principals behind a dozen private businesses, including a cancer clinic in the Bahamas, an auto-parts company, a medical real-estate company and several IT firms. How he was able to effectively juggle all of these duties seemed a legitimate concern, but it was not enough to deter a selection team from Montreal when they came calling.
Around that time, Dr. Porter had threatened to seek bankruptcy protection for the Detroit Medical Center if the state of Michigan didn’t provide a funding infusion – which it promptly did, pledging $50-million. In some circles, this move was courageous, given that such a public threat would almost certainly cost him his job. The other interpretation, of course, was that Dr. Porter had failed to accomplish what he was hired to do and right the DMC’s finances.
The Montreal recruiters – a selection committee of doctors and directors, plus professional headhunters – were more inclined to believe the former narrative over the latter. They were in a desperate hunt for a decisive leader with teeth – someone who could cut through the morass of the Quebec bureaucracy and finally build Montreal’s new superhospital, which had been nothing more than a discussion for six years. And here was Dr. Porter, a man with a vocal distaste for red tape and the ideological bona fides to prove it; he was a self-identified Republican whose walls were adorned with photos of himself alongside George H.W. Bush and former vice-president Dick Cheney.
The headhunting firm, Egon Zehnder International, declined an interview request but issued a statement, through a public-relations company, that called its search “long and rigorous.” It’s not clear if that search included a review of publicly available court records, which turns up considerable litigation involving Dr. Porter.
A month before the search began, a medical-equipment financing company, DVI Financial Services, launched a $5-million lawsuit against Dr. Porter and two of his business partners in a California radiology clinic after they allegedly failed to pay back a loan. The suit would follow Dr. Porter all the way to Montreal, but not before lawyers unsuccessfully tried to seize Dr. Porter’s property and garnish his wages. During the same period, a Nevada company, the Medical Construction Resource Group, had also sued him and his business partners after they allegedly failed to pay a $137,000 debt. (Court records show the two sides settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.)
But the alarm bells weren’t confined to court records. During Dr. Porter’s final months at the Detroit Medical Center, a number of board members resigned. Oscar Feldman, a prominent Detroit tax lawyer and a former owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, was blunt about his reason for leaving – Dr. Porter.
“My departure stemmed from the fact that too often his prognostications on DMC finances proved untrustworthy,” he said in an e-mail to The Globe.
But none of this slowed down Dr. Porter. When he landed in Montreal in the spring of 2004, he sized up his surroundings and – if his subsequent actions are any indication – he came to a realization.
This was a city where he could do business.
Broad networking

In his new home, Dr. Porter didn’t confine his networking to one political party.
He created an MUHC think tank on health policy, and named former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord as its “scholar in residence.” He identified a key ally in then Liberal health minister Philippe Couillard, hosting him at his many parties and dabbling in business with Mr. Couillard when he retired. (Mr. Couillard was a witness to Dr. Porter’s unique ability to navigate different worlds, when the pair travelled to Baltimore in the summer of 2005 to the annual Shriners convention. The mission was to persuade the organization of fez-wearing philanthropists to keep their pediatric hospital in Montreal, which they did, thanks in part to Dr. Porter’s decision to become a Shriner in a secret ceremony held in Montreal.)
Observers of Dr. Porter say another significant political associate was then-senator David Angus, who became chair of the MUHC’s board in 2007. A Montreal lawyer and long-time Conservative fundraiser dating back to Brian Mulroney’s reign, Mr. Angus became a vocal supporter of Dr. Porter, and the two were frequently together, including posing for photographs at events with Mr. Harper, both at the hospital and a 24 Sussex Dr. garden party.
In an e-mailed statement, Mr. Angus said that all of his interactions with Dr. Porter were entirely “business related” and that he never socialized with him outside of their official duties. “My relationship with Dr. Porter may be characterized as that which you would expect to exist between a diligent and engaged board chairman and a competent CEO. It was at all times professional and of the highest quality and standard,” he said.
Mr. Angus declined to answer questions about what role he played, if any, in the appointments that soon flowed Dr. Porter’s way – appointments that came from corporate and Conservative circles with which Mr. Angus has long had affiliations.
In 2006, Dr. Porter was named a director at Air Canada, which was where Mr. Angus served as a director for nearly two decades. One former director described Dr. Porter as keenly interested in forging relationships with other directors. “He was always talking about … Harper and other Tories. He said they always took his calls,” the source said.
Given Dr. Porter’s penchant for self-promotion, it’s not clear if that is true. What is true is that in 2008, Mr. Harper announced that he was appointing the doctor to the Security Intelligence Review Committee – the five-person body that is supposed to keep tabs on the operations of Canada’s spy agency, CSIS. In order to legally serve in this position, Dr. Porter was sworn in as lifetime member of the Queen’s Privy Council and, according to the committee’s own literature, given clearance to examine “all information held by CSIS, no matter how highly classified that information may be.”
It seemed that Dr. Porter hadn’t learned anything about his experience in Detroit and the risks that come from spreading himself too thin. If anything, his appetite for ventures only became more voracious.
The most infamous of these was his commercial relationship with a former arms dealer, and a self-described former spy, Ari Ben-Menashe, which was first revealed in the National Post last year. In 2010, Dr. Porter signed a consultancy agreement with Mr. Ben-Menashe, a deal that would require Mr. Ben-Menashe to secure a $120-million grant from Russia for “infrastructure development” in Dr. Porter’s native Sierra Leone. In return, a company controlled by Dr. Porter’s family, the Africa Infrastructure Group, would manage whatever facilities or projects were constructed with the funds. The deal fell apart, neither party could agree why and Mr. Ben Menashe spoke openly about the failed plans with a reporter – which led to Dr. Porter’s resignations from both the MUHC and the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
But that was hardly the only business that Dr. Porter launched while steering the MUHC and its 12,000 employees. He threw himself into multiple mining ventures in Quebec and Sierra Leone and sat on the boards of investment funds and a bio-tech start-up. He also leaped into another growth industry – the solar-power business. And this time, the chair of Canada’s spy watchdog aligned himself with the former vice-president of a company controlled by the family of Vito Rizzuto, the Montreal mob boss.
In 2010, Dr. Porter became the principal investor in Liberation Energy Inc., a partnership between himself and Lou Gallucci. Mr. Gallucci had the unfortunate history of working as an executive vice-president for OMG, a small advertising company that gained notoriety in the early 2000s after it emerged that it was secretly owned by gangsters and their family members, including the Rizzutos, as well as Juan Ramon Fernandez, later convicted of drug trafficking and a murder conspiracy.
Mr. Gallucci declined to comment for publication, but has vehemently denied he was aware of any connection between his previous employer and the Mafia. He once said in an affidavit that he would never forget the day “my child asked me what the mob was and whether I was a member.”
Liberation appears to have done very little business; one staff member was previously the manager of an establishment in Toronto’s nightclub district. The company and Dr. Porter are being sued by an Ontario numbered company, registered to a Toronto accountant named David Foley, for failing to make good on a $250,000 promissory note.
Not surprisingly, given his myriad commitments, the staff at the MUHC’s six hospitals noticed something about Dr. Porter: He was often absent.
“In one period from January to April, I’m told that he was here eight days,” said one former MUHC executive. “So he’d come for a board meeting and leave again, and he was running the hospital on his BlackBerry.
The former directors and executives who spoke to The Globe said a number of them were openly frustrated by Dr. Porter’s wandering attention, but efforts to rein him in fell under the purview of a committee within the larger board. Dr. Porter told CBC Radio in an interview that this committee, which was called the Nominating and Governance Committee and included Mr. Angus as well as the vice-chair, Montreal businessman Claudio Bussandri (who has since been named chairman), was given access to a dossier that listed all of Dr. Porter’s outside business pursuits.
Since Tuesday, when the Quebec government released its scathing review of the MUHC’s finances, several criticisms have been levelled at the board of directors for not properly overseeing Dr. Porter. The former directors who spoke to The Globe said it wasn’t that Dr. Porter was never challenged – he was, after all, surrounded by some of Montreal’s most accomplished citizens, including academics, lawyers, physicians and business executives. Rather, it appeared the board was structured so that his most outspoken critics had less power.
The former directors also said Dr. Porter excluded all staff and managers from board meetings, so that basic questions about waiting times and costs went unanswered.
“Arthur was so far away from the operations that he didn’t know the answers,” a former director said. “Or maybe he didn’t choose to answer. Who knows? The consequence of it is that we were given a binder full of mundane reports prepared by junior people that didn’t tell you anything.”
14 November
Arthur Porter’s loan from McGill related to real estate
Arthur Porter, the contentious former chief executive officer of the McGill University Health Centre, borrowed $500,000 in a “housing loan agreement” from the university even as he and his wife juggled two mortgages on downtown luxury condominiums, The Gazette has learned.
McGill is now suing Porter — who is out of the country — for $287,000, claiming that he failed to pay the loan in full in December 2011 when he resigned abruptly as head of the MUHC amid concerns that he wasn’t devoting himself fully to the hospital network.
McGill has refused to disclose the exact reasons for its loan to Porter, or its loan policy in general. However, the Gazette has uncovered that the loan was related to Porter’s condos.
We never saw Porter teach, McGill faculty members say
Former head of MUHC drew a second salary as a McGill professor

6 December 2011

Arthur Porter, CEO of MUHC, steps down

McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) board of governors accepted Arthur Porter’s resignation Monday.
Porter, who was named MUHC’s executive director in 2004, released the leadership reins three months before his contract was set to finish.
“Having presented a vision of the future to the Board, it’s now an appropriate time for me to move on,” he said in a statement sent to the media Monday night.
Porter is leaving MUHC less than a month after he resigned as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), after his ties to a controversial lobbyist became public.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm