A single night time in April 2016, RCMP officers had been trailing a guy driving west from Montreal to Toronto in a gray Hyundai Genesis, in accordance to affidavits submitted by the RCMP.
The car would not have appeared suspicious to other motorists on Freeway 401. But in accordance to a senior RCMP officer, law enforcement experienced viewed the driver — a rich North York forex trade proprietor named Farzam Mehdizadeh — journey the onerous route from Toronto to Montreal and again, 81 periods in a one yr.
At 10:20 p.m., as Mehdizadeh drove previous the village of Trenton, RCMP contacted an Ontario Provincial Law enforcement device and questioned them to pull Mehdizadeh more than for rushing.
An officer performed a short look for of the Hyundai Genesis and observed a little bit of hashish slipped into a cigarette package deal, RCMP officer Colleen Piers wrote in an affidavit acquired by Worldwide Information.
“It is at this time that Mehdizadeh voluntarily discloses that he has a huge sum of dollars in his possession and that the dollars is in the sum of $461,000,” Piers explained in her report describing the investigation.
On the ground mat around Mehdizadeh’s ft — wherever the standard Freeway 401 traveller may well depart a Tim Hortons bagel wrapper — was a huge brick of bundled $20s, in accordance to a law enforcement report.
The officer opened Mehdizadeh’s trunk and observed a black hockey bag. It allegedly hid 50 bricks of income and a blue backpack that held yet another 21 bricks of income. Pics submitted in RCMP proof confirmed there was also a leather-based journey bag keeping 37 bricks of income, and the ID of a guy with the past title of Pelletier.
Law enforcement seized Mehdizadeh’s vehicle and the income, and a number of times later on, executed look for warrants at Mehdizadeh’s Yonge Avenue forex trade store and his $4.8-million York Mills mansion.
The proof they seized would allegedly expose a worldwide underground banking community — seemingly legit accounting textbooks and a 2nd established of mystery accounting textbooks — in addition wire transfers, financial institution drafts, and financial loans involving equally significant Canadian financial institutions and also some shady forex buying and selling stores.
And between the goods seized from Mehdizadeh’s business office — in accordance to an RCMP proof affidavit — had been 9 Ontario driver’s licences, and a brick of $20s wrapped in elastic bands and connected to a white financial institution envelope, with a $14,000 financial institution draft from a significant Canadian financial institution tucked within.
At some point, Mehdizadeh would be accused of laundering $100 million in just a single yr in Toronto and Montreal and would be experiencing 16 felony expenses, like laundering drug dollars, tax evasion, and possessing proceeds of criminal offense. Mehdizadeh has not responded to the expenses and could not be achieved for remark by Worldwide Information. His colleagues explained they could not track down him both.
But the RCMP thought he was just a single suspect in a extremely huge team of underground bankers, lively in Toronto and Montreal specially, with backlinks to actual-estate dollars laundering. And they had been thought to be related to the higher echelons of Center East arranged criminal offense and terrorism funding, in accordance to a senior previous DEA investigator interviewed by Worldwide Information.
Given that expenses had been laid in 2017, even so, Mehdizadeh has however to surface in court docket, and in accordance to colleagues, he has remaining Canada for his indigenous Iran. The RCMP would not validate any facts about Mehdizadeh’s recent whereabouts.
A senior investigator with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who questioned not to be determined due to the fact of possible ongoing investigations, additional his voice to other critics from the DEA, that say this is just the most recent instance that Canada’s justice technique is not able to deal with dollars laundering and transnational criminal offense.
A Worldwide News investigation has observed that Canada mainly fails to properly prosecute dollars-laundering instances, with just 321 convictions in between 2000-2016. About 809 instances had been both stayed, withdrawn or dismissed, more than that very same time time period, ensuing in a conviction fee of close to 27 for each cent.
In B.C., just 10 men and women have been observed responsible of dollars laundering considering that 2002, although Ontario has noticed just 186 responsible verdicts considering that 2006.
Worldwide Information has figured out that RCMP’s investigation and arrest of Mehdizadeh was the Canadian end result of a amount of worldwide undercover investigations commenced by the DEA, and winding by way of Medellin, Colombia, to Dubai, Australia, Panama, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
Mehdizadeh was arrested in an procedure code-named “Project Oryx” RCMP affidavits say.
The proof seized would hook up Mehdizadeh to Altaf Khanani — an alleged mastermind underground banker and dollars launderer who moved up to $16 billion for each yr for worldwide criminal offense teams, with alleged backlinks to Hezbollah and other terrorist teams that are now blurring into transnational arranged criminal offense networks, in accordance to the DEA.
The U.S. Office of Point out has selected Khanani’s firm a “transnational arranged criminal offense group” with alleged backlinks to “terrorist funding.”
“The Khanani dollars laundering firm also has been included in the motion of resources for the Taliban, and Altaf Khanani, the group’s chief, is identified to have experienced associations with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Dawood Ibrahim, al-Qaeda, and Jaish-e-Mohammed,” a Office of Point out doc alleges.
Khanani has not been billed specially for terrorist funding, or for dollars laundering for terrorists, in accordance to community information on his circumstance.
Wall Avenue Trade — one of the currency exchanges used by Khanani’s organization, according to a report that quotes a senior Australia Federal Police official — was also employed to make a wire transfer by way of a Canadian financial institution and into the United States for the nine/11 terror strike, a congressional investigation observed.
On Feb. 11, 2019, RCMP announced 17 people were billed soon after a collection of raids had been carried out in Montreal and Toronto concentrating on what investigators feel is an in depth intercontinental dollars-laundering syndicate with ties to arranged criminal offense.
The RCMP probe, dubbed Undertaking Collector, included 300 RCMP officers in Ontario and Quebec who carried out just about a dozen look for warrants in Montreal and Toronto. The community, and time body of the investigation, advise feasible connections to the intercontinental probe of Khanani and Undertaking Oryx.
Even so, the RCMP would not remark on possible backlinks suspected by a previous DEA investigator interviewed by Worldwide Information.
Seventeen men and women encounter expenses like conspiracy, possession of medicine for the reason of trafficking, and laundering proceeds of criminal offense. The network’s alleged leaders, Nader Gramian-Nik, 56, of Vaughan, Ont., and Mohamad Jaber, 51, of Laval, Que., had been between these arrested.
A few suspects — Francisco Javier Jiminez Guerrero, 35, Victor Vargotskii, 56, and Frederick Rayman, 77 — are even now currently being sought.
“The network’s associates facilitated the selection of dollars from felony teams in Montréal and then laundered the benefits of their unlawful company,” the RCMP mentioned. “The community moved dollars that was gathered in Montréal by way of numerous people and forex trade places of work in Toronto.”
The RCMP alleged the underground banking community employed what is identified as hawala — that means transfer of credit score and personal debt between connected unlawful bankers, devoid of dollars really crossing borders — with “connections in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the United States and China. The resources had been usually wired by way of Dubai, and then returned to drug-exporting nations, this kind of as Colombia and Mexico.”
The technique of transaction is equivalent to the a single RCMP say they uncovered in B.C. on line casino dollars-laundering investigations.
To full a transaction, a drug trafficker will set up for $200,000 in drug income, for instance, to be deposited with a forex broker in Toronto. This broker will then check with a company spouse in Colombia, for instance, to offer $200,000 well worth of pesos to the drug trafficker’s agent in that place. The brokers in Toronto and Columbia will settle up accounts more than time, as medicine and dollars shift again and forth with numerous consumers.
5 Eyes Probe
At an anti-dollars laundering convention in Toronto in 2017, Scott Doran, then a senior RCMP arranged criminal offense investigator who is now main superintendent of intercontinental policing, verified the alleged backlinks of the Mehdizadeh probe to Khanani’s community.
In his report to the convention, which involved slides and pics of Mehdizadeh and Khanani, Doran explained the RCMP’s probe of Mehdizadeh commenced as an facts-sharing initiative in between the so-referred to as 5 Eyes intelligence associates, like the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K.
Doran explained that RCMP undercover officers had been included in two “cash drops” in Toronto that led them to Mehdizadeh.
Doran explained Mounties stored Mehdizadeh less than surveillance, and at some point took him down driving in between Montreal and Toronto. The RCMP suspected that Mehdizadeh could be just a single participant in a huge underground banking plan in japanese Canada, in accordance to Doran, with suspected backlinks to actual-estate dollars laundering.
In accordance to RCMP proof submitted in court docket and acquired by Worldwide Information, the Dubai corporation connected to the nine/11 assaults, Wall Avenue Trade, experienced manufactured a wire transfer to Mehdizadeh’s forex trade, Aria.
An affidavit submitted by the RCMP to keep proof seized, explained forensic investigators essential time to go after all countrywide and intercontinental angles of the circumstance, and would also need to have his tax and banking facts in the seizure, and to look at “potential manufacturing orders on banking establishments to establish a legitimacy of the supply of resources.”
Media reports on the 5 Eyes probe of Khanani that emphasis on the effective partnerships in between Australian law enforcement and the DEA, say that Khanani was lured into offering income dollars-laundering expert services for the DEA. Undercover brokers would meet up with Khanani operatives in towns close to the entire world, like Toronto, and offer them luggage stuffed with hundreds of countless numbers of pounds, according to the studies.
The studies say these income “mules” would provide the pretend drug income to forex exchanges in these towns and wire transfers would be operate by way of Dubai and again into the financial institution accounts employed by DEA entrance corporations.
The Khanani firm utilized myriad pretend shell corporations close to the entire world and a community of forex store proprietors around the globe, in accordance to the DEA and Monetary Motion Job Power (FATF) — an inter-authorities anti-dollars-laundering company.
The FATF and U.S. authorities studies say the Khanani firm has laundered billions every year for the Taliban, and terrorist teams like Hezbollah and al-Qaida, as very well as Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, and Chinese arranged criminal offense teams.
In 2017, Khanani was sentenced by a U.S. District Courtroom in Florida to just about 6 several years in jail for conspiracy to dedicate dollars laundering, the FATF report states.
“Extensive legislation enforcement co-ordination took location in between numerous legislation enforcement companies from Australia, Canada and the U.S., who all held a diverse piece of the puzzle,” the FATF report states.