Arrested Canadian police official oversaw Russian fraud probe

Cameron Ortis was a top advisor to former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, and had control over the agency’s counter-intelligence operations (AFP pic)

MONTREAL: A senior Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) intelligence officer arrested this week for allegedly stealing sensitive documents oversaw an investigation into the laundering of stolen Russian funds, Canadian media reported on Saturday.

The Globe and Mail said Cameron Ortis’s arrest was linked to a major corruption case that was first revealed by Sergei Magnitsky, who went public with details of a US$230-million fraud scheme allegedly run by senior Russian interior ministry and tax officials.

Ortis was as recently as August said to be overseeing a probe in whether some of the money was funnelled through Canada, the newspaper reported.

“Ortis, director-general of the RCMP’s National Intelligence Coordination Centre, was planning to meet for a second time with the legal team pursuing the matter alleging more than US$14-million in Russian fraud proceeds were tied to Canada,” The Globe and Mail said, citing an unnamed source.

Ortis’s involvement in the case came after William Browder, a British financier and former investor in Russia whom Magnitsky worked for, filed a complaint with the RCMP in 2016.

Magnitsky died in detention after spending 11 months in prisons in 2009.

Canada’s federal police agency hasn’t opened a former investigation into the allegation, despite a 2017 meeting between Ortis and Browder, the newspaper said.

Ortis, who was arrested in the capital Ottawa on Thursday, was a top advisor to former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, and had control over counter-intelligence operations, Canada’s Global News reported.

He faces five charges under the country’s criminal code and its Security of Information Act and will appear for a court hearing next Friday.

“The allegations are that he obtained, stored, processed sensitive information, we believe with the intent to communicate it to people that he shouldn’t be communicating it to,” prosecutor John MacFarlane told journalists after Ortis appeared in court last Friday.

The RCMP fears Ortis stole “large quantities of information, which could compromise an untold number of investigations,” according to Global News, which first reported the arrest.

Canada is a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance with Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States.