Canada land of easy crime, trial told

Canada is a great place to be a crook… a "la la land," where white-collar crime is lightly punished.

The Toronto Star
February 3, 2005

Canada land of easy crime, trial told
Yorkville lawyer bragged of payoffs undercover RCMP officer testifies.
Betsy Powell

Canada is a great place to be a crook because law enforcement is lax and the penal system lets well-connected criminals play golf and order pizza inside minimum-security facilities, a lawyer on trial for money laundering told an undercover RCMP officer.

The jury in the trial of Simon Rosenfeld heard taped conversations yesterday between the officer and the Toronto lawyer, and was told how Rosenfeld described Canada as a "la la land," where white-collar crime is lightly punished.

Rosenfeld, 58, is alleged to have laundered about a half-million dollars for an undercover RCMP officer posing as a front man for a drug-trafficking organization headed by a fictitious, Miami-based drug baron named Ricardo.

Rosenfeld has pleaded not guilty to three counts of money laundering in a Superior Court trial before Justice Tamarin Dunnet.

In her opening submission Tuesday, Crown attorney Rosemary Warren told the jury undercover RCMP agent Bill Majcher was playing the role of drug ring moneyman Bill MacDonald.

Majcher gave Rosenfeld, on two separate occasions in 2002, $250,000 in Canadian currency and $190,000 in U.S. funds that he was told, and believed, to be drug money.

Majcher told Rosenfeld to wire transfer the money to an FBI-controlled account in Miami "to coincide with the officer's cover story.''

Documents entered into evidence show the transfer was made.

"Other than police, only Simon Rosenfeld knew" that account number, she said.

Warren told the jury that meetings between Rosenfeld and Majcher were surreptitiously videotaped at the Park Hyatt hotel on Avenue Rd. Those tapes will be screened for the jury today, she said.

Yesterday, Majcher, who is based in Vancouver, took the stand. Lifting the veil on his covert work, Majcher spoke directly to the jury about how he was playing a "role" as part of the Mounties' Proceeds of Crime section's operations designed to "gather evidence and establish truth."

Now an inspector, Majcher gave the jury an overview of money laundering, saying crime is usually a cash business but large amounts of it are the "Achilles' heel" of criminal organizations. Most want to appear to be legitimate businesses yet be unjustly "subsidized," while lawful businesses must bear the full cost of overhead, which is "ruinous on the overall economy," he testified.

Once the Mounties decided to target Rosenfeld, Majcher testified he phoned Rosenfeld on his cellphone May 22, 2002. The two had met on a previous occasion in an "unrelated investigation" and Rosenfeld believed him to be Bill MacDonald, Majcher told the court.

Majcher testified he told Rosenfeld he was in Miami and interested in "picking up some contracts in Montreal," referring, he explained in street lingo, to "money pickups," and that he would contact him when he was in Toronto.

On May 31, Majcher, wearing a hidden recording device, went to see Rosenfeld in his law office on Prince Arthur. The two then headed down the street to an Italian restaurant not named in court.

Majcher testified, and is heard on the audiotape, telling Rosenfeld he is interested in expanding his business interests in Canada. Rosenfeld responds the climate in Canada is less hostile than in the United States where everything is under the "terrorist umbrella."

Rosenfeld, without naming them, tells the agent about an unnamed couple who ripped off financial institutions for $100 million. He said one of the accused "paid guys off" so he could stay in a country-club-like minimum-security facility where he could golf. He only served 14 months. "In Canada, that's the rule," Rosenfeld is heard telling the officer.

In the United States, the couple would have been sentenced to eight to 10 years, he added. It was "worth it to them," he said. "They're still $70 million up."

He cited the case of another man, a broker who falsified statements and spent a year in a minimum-security institute with a cellphone and fax machine with a private phone line. He ordered pizza half the time, Rosenfeld said on the tape.

Rosenfeld said the man said of his time inside: "I ate well, drank well. I didn't miss a thing."

The jury also heard Rosenfeld telling Majcher about hiring Hells Angels as security for his son's Bar Mitzvah at the (Toronto) Hunt Club, where, he said, they also had a tattooist "for the kids."

The jury also heard Rosenfeld, between ordering scaloppini, caramel crunch and a latte, that he has no property in his name.

"I don't own anything, never have, never will."

But the jury heard him telling Majcher that he nonetheless had a problem because his Mercedes is leased in the name of someone who the "Russians" were planning to kill over a rip-off.

"They're going to blow him up Friday," he is heard saying.

The jury heard the pair returning to Rosenfeld's office, where they discussed what the Crown alleges are the mechanics of the deal, including Rosenfeld's take of 8 per cent commission.

Majcher is heard on tape asking if it was okay to use the telephone. Rosenfeld agreed, telling him "my office is swept once a month." Majcher later told the jury Rosenfeld was indicating his office is swept for police electronic surveillance devices.

Rosenfeld is not in custody and was released on bail after being arrested at his Yorkville law office Aug. 14, 2002. The trial continues today.

Risks: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP, Money laundering, Canada: white-collar crime haven, Slap on the wrist for white-collar crime, Canada, 20050203 Canada land

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