By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
CANADIAN police believe Old Fort Bay resident Pamela Porter conspired with her husband to launder millions of dollars, according to an arrest warrant obtained by The Tribune.
The warrant accused the couple of conspiring together to commit an indictable offence, namely: recycling of proceeds of crime between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012.
The Porters were arrested in Panama City during a connecting flight from Nassau to Trinidad and Tobago.
According to reports, police stopped Dr Porter and his wife at the Tocumen airport on Sunday night. Mrs Porter was apprehended immediately; however, Dr Porter was said to have evaded arrest after he presented his diplomatic passport from Sierra Leone. The Old Fort Bay resident was picked up the following day after Panamanian authorities consulted with the Attorney General’s office in Nassau.
The Sierra Leone-born Porter is a physician and cancer specialist who faces six fraud-related charges stemming from the construction of the US$1.3 billion McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. Porter was director of the hospital when the alleged fraud is said to have occurred between 2008 and 2011.
In the Bahamas, Porter is managing director of the Cancer Centre of the Bahamas in Nassau. He was contracted by the government last year to lead a national task force on stem cell therapy. The government-appointed team presented recommendations on stem cell research and therapy in December.
Dr Porter told officials, including Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez, the “groundbreaking” science had the potential to jump-start a more than $100 million medical tourism industry.
In January, Dr Porter told The Tribune that he had late, stage-four cancer and was too ill to travel as allegations surrounding his business ventures, and tenure and resignation from the McGill University Health Centre heightened.
He dismissed the claims at the time as a vindictive and largely unsubstantiated attempt to embarrass him.
He added that he left the health centre in Canada to develop his interests in The Bahamas.
Police announced the charges against Porter in February. A month later, the McGill University Health Centre said it was cancelling plans to pave an “Arthur T Porter Way” onto the hospital property.
Porter, who left the hospital in 2011 amid allegations of mismanagement, is one of several people facing fraud-related charges stemming from the construction of the health centre, one of Canada’s biggest infrastructure projects, set to open in 2015. Others charged include the former head of Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, and Jeremy Morris, a Bahamian businessman accused of allegedly being involved in bribes between SNC and hospital officials.
Porter also formerly headed the watchdog committee that monitors the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada’s spy agency. He was appointed to that post in 2008 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, eventually becoming chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee in 2010.
Last night, calls to Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson were not returned.
Quebec’s anti-corruption police said extradition proceedings for the Porters are underway.