One evening in April 2016, RCMP officers have been trailing a person driving west from Montreal to Toronto in a gray Hyundai Genesis, based on affidavits filed by the RCMP.
The automobile wouldn’t have appeared suspicious to different drivers on Freeway 401. However based on a senior RCMP officer, police had watched the driving force — a rich North York foreign money trade proprietor named Farzam Mehdizadeh — journey the onerous route from Toronto to Montreal and again, 81 instances in a single yr.
At 10:20 p.m., as Mehdizadeh drove previous the village of Trenton, RCMP contacted an Ontario Provincial Police unit and requested them to tug Mehdizadeh over for rushing.
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An officer performed a quick search of the Hyundai Genesis and located a little bit of hashish slipped right into a cigarette package deal, RCMP officer Colleen Piers wrote in an affidavit obtained by International Information.
“It’s presently that Mehdizadeh voluntarily discloses that he has a big sum of cash in his possession and that the cash is within the quantity of $1.three million,” Piers stated in her report describing the investigation.
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On the ground mat close to Mehdizadeh’s toes — the place the standard Freeway 401 traveller may depart a Tim Hortons bagel wrapper — was a big brick of bundled $20s, based on a police report.
The officer opened Mehdizadeh’s trunk and noticed a black hockey bag. It allegedly hid 50 bricks of money and a blue backpack that held one other 21 bricks of money. Footage filed in RCMP proof confirmed there was additionally a leather-based journey bag holding 37 bricks of money, and the ID of a person with the final identify of Pelletier.
Police seized Mehdizadeh’s automobile and the money, and several other days later, executed search warrants at Mehdizadeh’s Yonge Road foreign money trade store and his $four.Eight-million York Mills mansion.
The proof they seized would allegedly reveal a worldwide underground banking community — apparently respectable accounting books and a second set of secret accounting books — plus wire transfers, financial institution drafts, and loans involving each main Canadian banks and in addition some shady foreign money buying and selling outlets.
And among the many objects seized from Mehdizadeh’s workplace — based on an RCMP proof affidavit — have been 9 Ontario driver’s licences, and a brick of $20s wrapped in elastic bands and hooked up to a white financial institution envelope, with a $14,000 financial institution draft from a significant Canadian financial institution tucked inside.
Finally, Mehdizadeh can be accused of laundering $100 million in only one yr in Toronto and Montreal and can be dealing with 16 legal costs, together with laundering drug cash, tax evasion, and possessing proceeds of crime. Mehdizadeh has not responded to the fees and couldn’t be reached for remark by International Information. His colleagues stated they may not find him both.
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However the RCMP believed he was only one suspect in a really massive group of underground bankers, energetic in Toronto and Montreal particularly, with hyperlinks to real-estate cash laundering. And so they have been believed to be linked to the higher echelons of Center East organized crime and terrorism financing, based on a senior former DEA investigator interviewed by International Information.
Since costs have been laid in 2017, nonetheless, Mehdizadeh has but to look in court docket, and based on colleagues, he has left Canada for his native Iran. The RCMP wouldn’t affirm any details about Mehdizadeh’s present whereabouts.
A senior investigator with the USA Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who requested to not be recognized due to potential ongoing investigations, added his voice to different critics from the DEA, that say that is simply the newest instance that Canada’s justice system is unable to sort out cash laundering and transnational crime.
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A International Information investigation has discovered that Canada largely fails to successfully prosecute money-laundering instances, with simply 321 convictions between 2000-2016. Roughly 809 instances have been both stayed, withdrawn or dismissed, over that very same time interval, leading to a conviction fee of round 27 per cent.
In B.C., simply 10 individuals have been discovered responsible of cash laundering since 2002, whereas Ontario has seen simply 186 responsible verdicts since 2006.
International Information has discovered that RCMP’s investigation and arrest of Mehdizadeh was the Canadian end result of plenty of world undercover investigations began by the DEA, and winding by means of Medellin, Colombia, to Dubai, Australia, Panama, Australia, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
Mehdizadeh was arrested in an operation code-named “Mission Oryx” RCMP affidavits say.
The proof seized would join Mehdizadeh to Altaf Khanani — an alleged mastermind underground banker and cash launderer who moved as much as $16 billion per yr for world crime teams, with alleged hyperlinks to Hezbollah and different terrorist teams that are actually blurring into transnational organized crime networks, based on the DEA.
The U.S. Division of State has designated Khanani’s group a “transnational organized crime group” with alleged hyperlinks to “terrorist financing.”
“The Khanani cash laundering group additionally has been concerned within the motion of funds for the Taliban, and Altaf Khanani, the group’s chief, is understood to have had relationships with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Dawood Ibrahim, al-Qaeda, and Jaish-e-Mohammed,” a Division of State doc alleges.
Khanani has not been charged particularly for terrorist financing, or for cash laundering for terrorists, based on public information on his case.
Wall Road Alternate — one of many foreign money exchanges utilized by Khanani’s group, based on a report that quotes a senior Australia Federal Police official — was additionally used to make a wire switch by means of a Canadian financial institution and into the USA for the 9/11 terror strike, a congressional investigation discovered.
On Feb. 11, 2019, RCMP introduced 17 individuals have been charged after a collection of raids have been carried out in Montreal and Toronto focusing on what investigators imagine is an intensive worldwide money-laundering syndicate with ties to organized crime.
The RCMP probe, dubbed Mission Collector, concerned 300 RCMP officers in Ontario and Quebec who carried out virtually a dozen search warrants in Montreal and Toronto. The community, and timeframe of the investigation, recommend attainable connections to the worldwide probe of Khanani and Mission Oryx.
Nevertheless, the RCMP wouldn’t touch upon potential hyperlinks suspected by a former DEA investigator interviewed by International Information.
Seventeen individuals face costs together with conspiracy, possession of medicine for the aim of trafficking, and laundering proceeds of crime. The community’s alleged leaders, Nader Gramian-Nik, 56, of Vaughan, Ont., and Mohamad Jaber, 51, of Laval, Que., have been amongst these arrested.
Three suspects — Francisco Javier Jiminez Guerrero, 35, Victor Vargotskii, 56, and Frederick Rayman, 77 — are nonetheless being sought.
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“The community’s members facilitated the gathering of cash from legal teams in Montréal after which laundered the outcomes of their unlawful enterprise,” the RCMP said Tuesday morning. “The community moved cash that was collected in Montréal by means of varied people and foreign money trade workplaces in Toronto.”
The RCMP alleged the underground banking community used what is called hawala — that means switch of credit score and debt amongst linked unlawful bankers, with out cash really crossing borders — with “connections in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the USA and China. The funds have been usually wired by means of Dubai, after which returned to drug-exporting nations, resembling Colombia and Mexico.”
The strategy of transaction is just like the one RCMP say they uncovered in B.C. on line casino money-laundering investigations.
To finish a transaction, a drug trafficker will prepare for $200,000 in drug money, for instance, to be deposited with a foreign money dealer in Toronto. This dealer will then ask a enterprise associate in Colombia, for instance, to offer $200,000 value of pesos to the drug trafficker’s agent in that nation. The brokers in Toronto and Columbia will settle up accounts over time, as medicine and cash transfer forwards and backwards with varied purchasers.
5 Eyes Probe
At an anti-money laundering convention in Toronto in 2017, Scott Doran, then a senior RCMP organized crime investigator who’s now chief superintendent of worldwide policing, confirmed the alleged hyperlinks of the Mehdizadeh probe to Khanani’s community.
In his report back to the convention, which included slides and photos of Mehdizadeh and Khanani, Doran stated the RCMP’s probe of Mehdizadeh began as an information-sharing initiative between the so-called 5 Eyes intelligence companions, together with the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.Ok.
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Doran stated that RCMP undercover officers have been concerned in two “money drops” in Toronto that led them to Mehdizadeh.
Doran stated Mounties stored Mehdizadeh beneath surveillance, and ultimately took him down driving between Montreal and Toronto. The RCMP suspected that Mehdizadeh could possibly be only one participant in an enormous underground banking scheme in jap Canada, based on Doran, with suspected hyperlinks to real-estate cash laundering.
In accordance with RCMP proof filed in court docket and obtained by International Information, the Dubai firm linked to the 9/11 assaults, Wall Road Alternate, had made a wire switch to Mehdizadeh’s foreign money trade, Aria.
An affidavit filed by the RCMP to retain proof seized, stated forensic investigators wanted time to pursue all nationwide and worldwide angles of the case, and would additionally want his tax and banking data within the seizure, and to think about “potential manufacturing orders on banking establishments to find out a legitimacy of the supply of funds.”
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Media experiences on the 5 Eyes probe of Khanani that target the profitable partnerships between Australian police and the DEA, say that Khanani was lured into offering money money-laundering companies for the DEA. Undercover brokers would meet Khanani operatives in cities all over the world, together with Toronto, and supply them luggage filled with lots of of 1000’s of , based on the experiences.
The experiences say these money “mules” would ship the faux drug money to foreign money exchanges in these cities and wire transfers can be run by means of Dubai and again into the financial institution accounts utilized by DEA entrance companies.
The Khanani group employed myriad faux shell companies all over the world and a community of foreign money store homeowners worldwide, based on the DEA and Monetary Motion Activity Drive (FATF) — an inter-government anti-money-laundering company.
The FATF and U.S. authorities experiences say the Khanani group has laundered billions yearly for the Taliban, and terrorist teams together with Hezbollah and al-Qaida, in addition to Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, and Chinese language organized crime teams.
In 2017, Khanani was sentenced by a U.S. District Courtroom in Florida to virtually six years in jail for conspiracy to commit cash laundering, the FATF report says.
“In depth regulation enforcement co-ordination occurred between a number of regulation enforcement companies from Australia, Canada and the U.S., who all held a special piece of the puzzle,” the FATF report says.
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