An impaired driving arrest led to a multi-jurisdictional investigation uncovering $11 million in alleged fraudulent lease agreements and loans.
In August 2015, a man arrested for impaired driving was found with almost $10,000 in cash and seven credit cards in his pockets, three in different names, as officers inventoried his belongings.
“It was a smart cop, doing his job properly, that saw something that didn’t look right. He asked some questions and made some inquiries and called Financial Crimes to elevate the investigation,” said Financial Crimes Inspector Peter Callaghan.
It began a two-year investigation, partnered with the RCMP Integrated Market Enforcement Team, into a group of people alleged to have been fraudulently obtaining loans from financial institutions to pay for leases of equipment for industrial use such as food packaging.
The equipment was alleged to have been undervalued or never leased at all through a series of shell companies, sometimes overseas.
A total of 12 people have been arrested and 96 charges laid in the project, named after the card game because officers believed the accused were playing a game of chance with their crimes.
“It’s a long involved process to put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out what we’re looking at,” said Callaghan, of tracking the flow of large sums of money to a series of different people. “It is so large and the flow of money so complex we couldn’t do it ourselves. The RCMP provided us with many resources and the Ontario Ministry of Finance were able to do forensic audits, among many other partners.”
He credited partners, including:
- Department of Homeland Security
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (Jacksonville)
- State Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas
- Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
- Canada Border Services Agency
- Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (fintrac)
- Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (fincen - U.S. Department of the Treasury)
- Ministry of Finance
- Canada Revenue Agency
Callaghan said the fraud has far-reaching implications for many people as the losses incurred affect investors from individuals to pension funds as well as small businesses who endure more scrutiny because of these crimes.
He said financial institutions were unaware, had written off, planned to pursue civil action or had been investigating the alleged financial crimes. At some points, it is alleged that banks were shown equipment that was to be leased whose value had been greatly inflated.
“This is a long-term investigation as we follow the money. We obtain search warrants and production orders to get banking and financial records and follow the trail of the money,” Callaghan said.
He alleged the money was diverted overseas to avoid detection and has led to other investigations in those countries.
“Some of the accused are alleged to have helped facilitate the flow of money, others in the transactions themselves,” he said.
The following have been arrested and charged:
- Faisal Iqbal Qureshi, 42, of Richmond Hill: 14 counts of Fraud Over $5,000, Participate in a Criminal Organization
- Giuseppe Gatti, 48, of Ajax: 14 counts of Fraud Over $5,000, Participate in a Criminal Organization
- Taragh Bracken, 47, of Whitby: 14 counts of Fraud Over $5,000
- Darrell Shulman, 49, of Thornhill: 14 counts of Fraud Over $5,000, Participate in a Criminal Organization
- Mary Sophie Kaloczi, 35, of Georgetown: 14 counts of Fraud Over $5,000, Participate in a Criminal Organization
- Maurizio Adiletta, 53, of Brampton: 14 counts of Fraud Over $5,000, Participate in a Criminal Organization
- Pino “Frank” Guido, 53, of Kleinburg: Fraud Over $5,000, Possession of Proceeds of Crime
- Eric Thomas, 57, of Mississauga: Fraud Over $5,000
- Sanjeev Mannan, 48, of Locust Hill: Fraud Over $5,000
- Laura Tolosa, 37, of Toronto: Fraud Over $5,000
- Cosimo Commisso, 72, of Vaughan: Possession of Proceeds of Crime
- Ravinder Bedi, 54, of Brampton: Fraud Over $5,000