Soldier dies after gun violence near Canada’s war memorial

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/soldier-dies-after-gunman-shoots-him-near-canadas-war-memorial

A soldier for the Canadian Forces died Wednesday just hours after reportedly being shot by at least one gunman who opened fire in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

LIVE VIDEO: Manhunt for Ottawa shooting suspect

Just before 10 a.m. local time, law enforcement officials responded to multiple 911 calls regarding a shooting near the National War Memorial, Ottawa Police Service Chief Charles Bordeleau said during an afternoon press conference. The alerts were followed by a similar incident on Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa.

Three other local authorities joined Bordeleau at the news conference. But they refused to confirm whether or not armed suspects remained at-large from the police. Authorities confirmed at least one of the suspects, a male, died, after firing on the hill. 

The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus received four patients, three of which had minor, non-life threatening injuries and remain in the care of doctors, said communications adviser Hazel Harding. 

Authorities won’t release the identity nor the age of the deceased soldier until the family has been notified.

Multiple buildings in Ottawa previously were on lockdown, including Parliament. Police warned residents located in the downtown area to refrain from walking near windows or on rooftops. Several federal government offices were promptly closed to the public, including Ottawa City Hall and Ottawa police stations.

Authorities weren’t immediately certain about a motive, or if the incident was linked to terrorism.

“As with all Ottawa residents and all Canadians, I am shocked and saddened by what has happened in the last hour here in the nation’s capital,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson posted to his Twitter account.

The shooting comes two days after a man, suspected to be influenced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), drove over two soldiers, killing one, in Montreal, Quebec. Earlier this month, members of Canada’s Parliament agreed to join the U.S.-led coalition to fight the terrorist group in Iraq. 

President Barack Obama called Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to remind him of Americans’ solidarity with his country. Obama condemned the attacks, and reaffirmed the close friendship and alliance between both North American countries.

The FBI has also weighed in with a statement: ”Although there is no specific reporting indicating a threat to the United States, as a matter of precaution due to recent events, the FBI has reminded our field offices and government partners to remain vigilant in light of recent calls for attacks against government personnel by terrorist groups and like-minded individuals. We stand ready to assist our Canadian partners as they deal with the ongoing situation in their capital.”

Mass shootings have been on the rise in the United States, but this kind of violence has been relatively uncommon in Canada.

Other Canadian cities implemented cautionary measures as police in Ottawa continued their investigation. The game scheduled for Wednesday night between the Toronto Maple Leas and the Ottawa Senators in Ontario was postponed.

 

 

 

Chris Mathers To Appear On The Security Brief Podcast

Chris Mathers will be appearing on the Security Brief with Paul Viollis  Podcast Thursday September 25.  

See a preview of the show below:

"With $2.5 Trillion dollars laundered every year worldwide, money laundering is a not only a global issue but one that adversely affects all people regardless of their lot in life or net worth.  Recognizing the importance to educate our audience on this subject, we have put together a show that will take you through the process, the players, the effects and the suggestions on how you can avoid falling victim to it.  My feature guest will be one of, if not the most renowned money laundering expert in the world, Mr. Chris Mathers.  Chris will bring to bear his decades of undercover experience with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as all the work he continues to do in private practice.  Chris will be joined by intelligence expert and former Royal Martine Commando Frank Morey from the United Kingdom.  I assure you this, you don’t want to miss this show"

 

The Security Brief  podcast can be found on the Podcast One Network

 

 

Protecting the prime minister a delicate balancing act, security experts say

The Canadian Press

January 6, 2014

Protecting the prime minister while still allowing him to interact with the public is a delicate balancing act, security experts said Tuesday, a day after two protesters got within arm’s-length of Stephen Harper.

Two climate-change activists slipped past layers of security at an upscale Vancouver hotel to hold up signs behind Harper while he was on stage at a closed event on Monday.

The pair — dressed in black to blend in with catering staff — were quickly removed and no criminal charges were laid, but the incident is being reviewed by the RCMP to see what more needs to be done to ensure the prime minister’s safety.

While there’s no doubt the security breach was a serious one, a former RCMP officer who was with the force for 20 years said it’s impossible to prevent such incidents from happening entirely.

“There’s always going to be breaches like that, but it’s all about democracy,” said Chris Mathers.

“We don’t limit people’s movements in a democracy, we don’t ask people for their papers at every corner and leaders of democratic nations understand that they’re putting themselves in harm’s way just by taking office, because you can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

As an example of that unpredictability, Mathers pointed to a recent memorial in South Africa to honour Nelson Mandela where a phoney sign-language interpreter who allegedly has a criminal background stood just a few steps away from U.S. President Barack Obama.

In an earlier incident, a couple from Virginia got past security checkpoints at the Whitehouse in 2009 and was able to shake hands with Obama while crashing a state dinner as uninvited guests.

“The police are limited in what they’re allowed to do and how they’re allowed to control people’s movements,” he said. “It’s a very, very difficult thing.”

The risk associated with the Vancouver incident, however, was nonetheless very real.

“If they were terrorists it could have been a terrible situation, if it was a suicide bomber it could have been a terrible situation,” Mathers said of the silent protesters. “But I don’t think it should be blown too far out of proportion because the guys protecting the prime minister are pretty sharp.”

The incident would have no doubt triggered much discussion within the RCMP, said Larry Busch, a former Mountie who was tasked with VIP security operations in Ontario in the past.

“There would be a very thorough investigation done by both the RCMP in Vancouver and the senior personnel at the prime minister’s protective detail in Ottawa,” he said.

Busch suggested that lessons learned might include having all staff at a venue being attended by the prime minister vetted by police and being issued badges. But even those measures could not entirely prevent someone from acting out.

“A single individual can still stand out in a security situation,” he said.

Busch noted, however, that prime minister’s protective detail is constantly scanning crowds to assess body language, demeanour and facial expressions which might hint at potential problems.

“I think what the Canadian public does not see is the many, many times that the RCMP security levels do work,” he said. “The body guards do intercept people and turn them away.”

Stolen passports often used by airline passengers

Radio Canada International

March 11, 2014

The search for Malaysian Airline flight 370 revealed that two passengers were travelling on stolen passports, and the fact that this often happens. In the case of this jet which disappeared after leaving Kuala Lumpur March 12, investigators eventually rejected the notion the two had any links to terrorism. They believe that at least one was simply trying to get into Europe, perhaps as a refugee claimant.

Travel on stolen passports ‘common’

But the discovery of the stolen passports raises questions about how many people travel on stolen documents and how such a security breach can happen. “It’s a lot more common than people might think,” says Chris Mathers, a security consultant and former officer with Canada’s national police, the RCMP.  He notes that many refugees travel on stolen documents and then dispose of them before they get to the country from which they seek asylum. He adds, backpackers often sell their passports to finance their travels.

Four out of 10 travellers not screened

The international police organization, Interpol says it is seriously concerned that about four out of every 10 international passengers are not being screened against its vast database of passports.

Some countries are more diligent than others. In 2013, the U.S. searched the Interpol database more than 238 million times, the U.K. more than 140 million times and the UAE more than 104 million times. Interpol adds that terrorists, murderers and war criminals have been identified as having travelled using stolen passports.

Airline personnel can’t access Interpol database

“Canada does pretty much nothing,” says Mathers. “The only person that looks at your identification when you get on an aircraft in Canada is the (airline’s) ground crew.” Mathers says airline personnel are unqualified to recognized forged or altered documents and they do not have access to Interpol’s database. He believes it is up to each country’s law enforcement officials to do the checks.

Most countries don’t use databases

 

“Canada does pretty much nothing,” says Mathers. “The only person that looks at your identification when you get on an aircraft in Canada is the (airline’s) ground crew.” Mathers says airline personnel are unqualified to recognized forged or altered documents and they do not have access to Interpol’s database. He believes it is up to each country’s law enforcement officials to do the checks.

Most countries don’t use databases

Interpol says fewer than 20 of its 190 member countries systematically checked passports of international travellers against its databases last year. It adds that if countries are not doing the checks, then private industry should and it is prepared to put in place what it calls a “vital passenger security measure.”  Mathers however, doesn’t think airlines would like to take on more security checks than they already carry out, nor does he believe passengers would welcome the extra time they would take.

The traffic of stolen passports is an issue of corruption, believes Mathers. He thinks Canada should pressure countries to crack down on officials and airline personnel who enable what is an illegal and lucrative business.

A Silent Threat From Inside Out

National Post - February 21, 2012

Cyberspying on the rise

Since the Cold War, espionage has been a constant thorn in the sides of government and industry alike. But the cyberworld has transformed the art and science of espionage into an entirely new force to be reckoned with.

“Espionage has always been about stealing private or confidential information to use for a strategic advantage,” says Michel Juneau-Katsuya, cybercrime specialist and CEO of The Northgate Group in Ottawa.

“But cyber has delivered new tools to do it. Now you can get access using a computer; before you used human beings to do the breaking and entering.”

Cybercrime and a business’s ability to protect its assets, has become an increasingly prevalent concern in recent months, he notes. “More and more financial institutions and bankers are concerned about security of a company before they invest. They’re asking for guarantees that their intellectual property investments are safe.”

The cybercrime community itself has become a veritable mixed bag of players, including individuals, activist groups, governments and major corporations who are turning to competitive intelligence and malicious attacks as a means to disrupt economies, gain a strategic advantage, make a political statement or bring corporate activity to a standstill.

And there’s more to come, contends Chris Mathers, an international crime and risk consultant based in Toronto.

“Crime has evolved because we’re still in the larval stages of IT. Compared to human history, the Internet has only been around a short time.”

At first it was basic hacking, he says. Then it morphed into kids and IT geeks wanting to see what they could do. After that, crooks could get in to steal credit card information and IDs.

“Credit card fraud is purse snatching compared to what these people are trying to do now,” Mr. Mathers says.

“There are large-scale operations with a view to disrupting commerce to their advantage. The big IT crime efforts are miles beyond somebody grabbing a credit card number. These can actually affect the GDP and economic performance of a nation.”

The cost to the economy is indeed staggering, says Mr. Juneau-Katsuya. And Canada is faring worse than many others.

“According to certain estimates, in Canada alone, $50-to $100-billion a year is lost [to cybercrime efforts]. The FBI reports that the U.S. loses $250-billion a year. So they’re losing just over twice as much as us, but are 10 times bigger.”

The reason, he says, is the wealth of intellectual assets in Canada. “We are a knowledge-based society. There’s a lot of phenomenal research going on. The population is also extremely naïve. While they understand what the threat is to, they have a poor understanding of where the threats are from.”

While a vast majority of the largescale efforts are from the outside, a lot of cybercrime-related activities come from within a company, Mr. Juneau-Katsuya adds.

“Organizations don’t build walls between databases and restrict access to information as they should. If the protocols aren’t in place, it’s a free for all.”

In fact he estimates that 90% of “spy cases” are conducted by somebody with legitimate access. “In other words, the wolf is in the barn. You can build a bunker, but the threat is already inside.”

The biggest thing organizations can do is to look at their business culture first and build awareness where needed, he advises, adding that most people

“A vast majority of people want to do their jobs honestly, but unknowlingly release information.

“The biggest need right now is teaching ‘regular people’ the business dangers of this,” Mr. Mathers says. “It’s not so much about what they can’t do, but what they can do safely.”

The social media component is only adding fuel to the flames, Mr. Juneau-Katsuya notes. “Social networks have created big, big issues. Something can be filmed or captured and in less than 15 minutes the whole world can be looking at it.”

Pamela Murphy, an assistant professor at Queen’s University School of Business in Ottawa, studies the psychology of fraud within organizations.

She speculates that cybercrime can make it easier for someone to rationalize their behaviour. “It’s easier to do from a psychological point of view because you rarely see the victim.”

She contends that organizational culture is a big part of the whole exercise. “Increase awareness, listen to people and get clues from the way they’re behaving.”

Ultimately, says Mr. Juneau-Katsuya, there are two elements you need to protect: your information, and the people that handle it. “Protection often has much more to do with business culture than physical security.”

Above all else, be wise about investing in protection from cybercrime, he advises.

“Generally corporations still perceive security as an expense that doesn’t contribute to profitability. It should be seen as a strategic investment that contributes to the wellbeing of the company. But there is a multitude of things that need to be understood first.”

 

BY DENISE DEVEAU

UK Dept. for International Development - Justice For All Program - Nigeria

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CHRISMATHERS INC. has been engaged by the UK Department for International Development's Justice for All Program (J4A) to provide technical assistance to Nigeria's Anti-Corruption Agencies. The goal of this long-term engagement is to provide investigative assistance, mentoring and training to investigators from the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Financial Intelligence Unit, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commisssion and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Air Canada wildcat reminds Canada Post worker of his own run-in with Raitt

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Winnipeg Free Press TORONTO - The recent tensions between Air Canada workers and Lisa Raitt reminded Jim Gallant of the time he gave the federal labour minister a piece of his mind in public. In exchange, the veteran Canada Post worker said he got a pair of RCMP officers knocking on his office door — a response he equated to the sudden suspensions that triggered last week's early-morning wildcat strike at Canada's largest airline. Gallant, 41, from Halifax, said it's evidence of the sort of bullying tactics employed by Raitt and the federal Conservative government. Security experts and RCMP officials, on the other hand, call it little more than standard procedure. Gallant, a regional grievance officer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers with 23 years at Canada Post, was in Toronto and attending a hockey game at the Air Canada Centre last October when he saw Raitt walking through the concourse. "We had been ordered back to work earlier in the year and I took that opportunity to voice my disgust with government interfering with my place of work," he recalled. "She was very concerned that I was interfering with her in her personal time, and I told her that she had interfered with mine and she was going to hear from me." Gallant said he accused Raitt to her face of lying to the Senate and the House of Commons when explaining why postal employees had to be ordered back to work. The encounter on Oct. 29 lasted about two minutes, he said. "She walked very quickly away from me, and I didn’t chase her or anything, but I did get a little louder so she could hear me as she walked away," he said. "The staff at the Air Canada Centre asked me to stop and I stopped and they took my hockey ticket." Nearly two months later, Gallant said he was working at his office in Halifax when two plainclothes RCMP officers showed up to discuss the Toronto run-in. "I told them I didn’t want to talk to them," he said. "I didn’t know how they found me but afterwards I remembered that I had purchased my hockey tickets on my credit card." Raitt spokeswoman Ashley Kelahear said she could not comment on matters concerning the minister's security. A spokesman for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada later confirmed the incident was reported to police. Gallant said he referred the police officers to his lawyer and said he hasn't heard from them since. He is not facing any charges. Experts and police both say such interviews are basic procedure. Officials routinely report unusual incidents that take place on off-hours, said security consultant Chris Mathers, a former RCMP officer himself. Documenting a confrontational encounter from an unsympathetic member of the public is always prudent, he added. Once the complaint is filed, he said, the matter is entirely in the hands of police. "The minister has no control over that. Like any other citizen, the minute you call the police, you lose control," Mathers said. "Ministers can't direct the police to do anything, there's no way." RCMP sgt. Greg Cox said he could not comment on Gallant's case, but said the interview at his workplace sounds entirely routine. "Any time we receive any complaint, going to speak to someone is obviously just to get the other side of the story," he said. "That's just common police work. It doesn't matter who's involved." On Friday, three Air Canada workers were temporarily suspended for heckling Raitt as she passed through Toronto's Pearson Airport. Those suspensions triggered a wildcat strike by fellow workers angered by the Conservative government bringing in back-to-work legislation and sending their contract dispute with the airline to arbitration. Gallant said he believes the government's handling of the Air Canada labour dispute is similar to the way it approached striking Canada Post workers last year. Those who voice displeasure with the government's tactics run the risk of harassment, he said. "That’s the way the Conservative government works and specifically Ms. Raitt — if anyone says anything it’s either illegal or 'I’m going to get you fired.' Raitt introduced legislation last June to end a dispute at Canada Post that scuttled mail delivery service across the country. The Conservative government cited the fragile economy when they decided to go ahead with a back-to-work bill, a move which the union said took away workers' rights. — With files from Steve Fairbairn and Diana Mehta

A silent threat from inside out

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The National Post - Financial Post Since the Cold War, espionage has been a constant thorn in the sides of government and industry alike. But the cyberworld has transformed the art and science of espionage into an entirely new force to be reckoned with.

“Espionage has always been about stealing private or confidential information to use for a strategic advantage,” says Michel Juneau-Katsuya, cybercrime specialist and CEO of The Northgate Group in Ottawa. “But cyber has delivered new tools to do it. Now you can get access using a computer; before you used human beings to do the breaking and entering.” Cybercrime and a business’s ability to protect its assets, has become an increasingly prevalent concern in recent months, he notes. “More and more financial institutions and bankers are concerned about security of a company before they invest. They’re asking for guarantees that their intellectual property investments are safe.”

The cybercrime community itself has become a veritable mixed bag of players, including individuals, activist groups, governments and major corporations who are turning to competitive intelligence and malicious attacks as a means to disrupt economies, gain a strategic advantage, make a political statement or bring corporate activity to a standstill.

And there’s more to come, contends Chris Mathers, an international crime and risk consultant based in Toronto. “Crime has evolved because we’re still in the larval stages of IT. Compared to human history, the Internet has only been around a short time.” At first it was basic hacking, he says. Then it morphed into kids and IT geeks wanting to see what they could do. After that, crooks could get in to steal credit card information and IDs. “Credit card fraud is purse snatching compared to what these people are trying to do now,” Mr. Mathers says. “There are large-scale operations with a view to disrupting commerce to their advantage. The big IT crime efforts are miles beyond somebody grabbing a credit card number. These can actually affect the GDP and economic performance of a nation.

” The cost to the economy is indeed staggering, says Mr. Juneau-Katsuya. And Canada is faring worse than many others. “According to certain estimates, in Canada alone, $50-to $100-billion a year is lost [to cybercrime efforts]. The FBI reports that the U.S. loses $250-billion a year. So they’re losing just over twice as much as us, but are 10 times bigger.” The reason, he says, is the wealth of intellectual assets in Canada. “We are a knowledge-based society. There’s a lot of phenomenal research going on. The population is also extremely naïve. While they understand what the threat is to, they have a poor understanding of where the threats are from.” While a vast majority of the largescale efforts are from the outside, a lot of cybercrime-related activities come from within a company, Mr. Juneau-Katsuya adds. “Organizations don’t build walls between databases and restrict access to information as they should. If the protocols aren’t in place, it’s a free for all.” In fact he estimates that 90% of “spy cases” are conducted by somebody with legitimate access. “In other words, the wolf is in the barn. You can build a bunker, but the threat is already inside.” The biggest thing organizations can do is to look at their business culture first and build awareness where needed, he advises, adding that most people “A vast majority of people want to do their jobs honestly, but unknowlingly release information. “The biggest need right now is teaching ‘regular people’ the business dangers of this,” Mr. Mathers says. “It’s not so much about what they can’t do, but what they can do safely.”

The social media component is only adding fuel to the flames, Mr. Juneau-Katsuya notes. “Social networks have created big, big issues. Something can be filmed or captured and in less than 15 minutes the whole world can be looking at it.” Pamela Murphy, an assistant professor at Queen’s University School of Business in Ottawa, studies the psychology of fraud within organizations. She speculates that cybercrime can make it easier for someone to rationalize their behaviour. “It’s easier to do from a psychological point of view because you rarely see the victim.” She contends that organizational culture is a big part of the whole exercise. “Increase awareness, listen to people and get clues from the way they’re behaving.” Ultimately, says Mr. Juneau-Katsuya, there are two elements you need to protect: your information, and the people that handle it. “Protection often has much more to do with business culture than physical security.” Above all else, be wise about investing in protection from cybercrime, he advises. “Generally corporations still perceive security as an expense that doesn’t contribute to profitability. It should be seen as a strategic investment that contributes to the wellbeing of the company. But there is a multitude of things that need to be understood first.”

By Denise Deveau

Globe and Mail - B.C. Lottery Corp. seeks direct deposit of foreign wire-transfers

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Reporter: Julian Sher The B.C. Lottery Corporation is pressing for changes to provincial legislation that currently bars direct money-wire transfers from overseas into casinos. That will help Paragon Gaming reach its target of $100-million a year from international gamblers at an expanded Vancouver casino, said corporation president Michael Graydon. But Mr. Graydon insisted that the change won’t increase the possibility of money laundering at casinos. He said the new system would actually reduce it, since casinos would be dealing with less cash than otherwise and police would have a clear electronic trail of where money is coming from. Mr. Graydon and casino owners say that this kind of wire transfer is available in many other casinos around the world that attract international visitors. Currently, gamblers from outside Canada have two options if they want to bring in money to use in casinos. They can bring in cash, as long as it’s less than $10,000. If they want to play with more than that, they have to set up a Canadian bank account and wire the money there. The casino will then set up an electronic account that withdraws and deposits money to that Canadian bank, a pilot project that was only instituted a little more than a year ago. “What we’d like is the ability to wire the money in from an accredited, registered, recognized banking institution in those markets [that gamblers are coming from] directly to the casinos,” said Mr. Graydon. “We are in discussions now [with the province’s gaming policy and enforcement branch] on how to enhance the electronic transfer of funds and reduce the reliance on cash.” The province’s gaming branch said it “is currently reviewing” BCLC’s suggestion for change. Mr. Graydon said the ability to transfer money directly from overseas to a casino won’t affect the majority of international visitors. But it will be an enticement to a small but affluent group. “We have some high-end players that do buy-ins of half a million dollars in a morning. They’ll play for $45,000 a hand and sit for three of four hours.” The corporation recorded 18,000 transactions at B.C. casinos last year of over $10,000. About 13 per cent of those were over $25,000. Many countries have stepped up their vigilance around money laundering in the past decade in an effort to fight terrorism and curb the circulation of illegal drug profits. Money-wire transfers frequently show up as one of the ways that illegal money is moved around. As a 2006 U.S. Financial Action Task Force report on money laundering noted, “Historically, the most prevalent method of money laundering reported in suspicious activity reports is structured cash deposits followed by immediate and regular international wire transfers that are conducted through correspondent accounts either by individuals or businesses.” A Canadian money-laundering expert also said he had concerns about the kind of change that B.C. is now considering. “It raises huge concerns,” said Chris Mathers, a former RCMP expert on the proceeds of crime who is now a Toronto-based consultant. “It’s a really bad idea.” “You need to know the source of the funds, but here a wire transfer just shows up,” he said. “Who is this guy? What is the source of his money? Have you done a background check on him?” But Mr. Graydon said that only select overseas banks will be permitted to do wire transfers to casinos for their customers. Paragon Gaming president Scott Menke said the change in regulations would definitely encourage more international gamblers to make Vancouver a destination. Singapore, which allows that kind of transfer, has shown enormous increases in its gambling revenue. Howard Blank, the president of the local company Great Canadian Gaming, said his company is in favour of the change as long as FINTRAC, Canada’s monitoring agency for money laundering, supports it. “We don’t want Harry’s Night and Day bank in wherever to be able to do this.” Mr. Blank said it would be helpful for patrons, since they wouldn’t need to carry around large amounts of cash or set up a Canadian bank account just in order to gamble. “All we’re doing is taking one step away.” Like Mr. Graydon, he said the change would help police track any possible money laundering. “The nice thing about wire transfers, there’s a total chain in the trail. I would rather have something transferred in than get a bag with $100,000.”

Globe and Mail - Canada says it is plugging money-laundering loopholes

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Still stinging from an official rebuke that its banks and financial institutions were not meeting several key anti-money laundering standards – in particular failing to diligently check the backgrounds of their sometimes shady customers – Canada hopes to convince international authorities at an important Paris meeting this week that it is getting tough on dirty money. At a closed-door meeting that wraps up Friday, the Financial Action Task Force – a multi-government group responsible for setting anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing practices – heard Canada make the case that it “has made significant progress in strengthening its regime,” said Finance Department spokeswoman Stephanie Rubec. Ottawa says there are now tougher requirements to check on “customer due diligence” as well as stricter monitoring of everything from wire transfers to casinos and check-cashing companies – all favourite tools of money launderers. But experts warn that while Canada plugs some of the most glaring loopholes in its laws and regulations, the country is still vulnerable because of a lack of investigation, enforcement and prosecution. “You can change the laws all you want, if you don’t prosecute anyone no one gives a damn,” said Chris Mathers, a 20-year veteran of the RCMP who specialized in undercover proceeds-of-crime investigations and now runs his own consulting firm. “The last thing the bad guys laundering money in Canada are worried about is going to jail.” In 2008, the Financial Action Task Force found that Canada was “non-complaint” with 11 of 49 recommendations in its “basic framework for anti-money laundering efforts” – far behind the United States, Germany, and even Saudi Arabia and India. Canada fully met only seven recommendations and was partially or largely compliant with the rest. Of special worry to the task force was Canada’s failure to meet a core recommendation – the need to verify the identity and trustworthiness of banking clients. “Canada basically got a “D” when it comes to knowing who your client is,” said Tim Leech of Risk Oversight, a consulting firm that focuses on money-laundering. “If you want to stop the proceeds of crime, you are going to have to take a whole lot of efforts to find out who is putting money in your accounts.” Since that failing grade, Ottawa says Canada now requires financial institutions to run “enhanced” background checks, especially for “high-risk clients,” and dig deeper into “beneficial owners” – when someone may front for the real owner. Ms. Rubec said Canada has also addressed the other problems flagged by the task force. There are new rules for tracking wire transfers of $1,000 or more; registering sometimes dubious “money service businesses” such as cheque-cashing and money-order operations; expanding control over businesses not completely covered in the past such as casino operators, precious metal dealers and accountants; and ensuring that foreign subsidiaries of Canadian companies follow the task force’s standards. “Canada’s regime is comprehensive and compares favourably with that of other countries,” Ms. Rubec said. This will be Canada’s second follow-up report to the task force, which has acknowledged the progress made. But Canada may have a tougher time showing any improvement on another key failing: the low number of convictions for money-laundering in this country. The latest data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics show that between 2004 and 2009, only 71 people in Canada were found guilty under the Criminal Code section for “laundering proceeds of crime.” Three times as many cases – 201 in all – were withdrawn, dismissed or stayed. By comparison, according the U.K. Under-Secretary of State, the number of defendants found guilty in all courts in England and Wales of money-laundering offences for each year between 2006 and 2008 was more than 1,200. “Successful prosecutions for money laundering in Canada verge on the pitiful,” said Kim Manchester, who runs a financial-crime risk-management firm in Toronto. Experts cite several reasons for the problem: privacy rules that prevent FINTRAC, the main money-laundering watchdog, from freely sharing information with law enforcement; complex investigations that can take understaffed police agencies years to finish, and overworked Crown prosecutors who often plea bargain away difficult money-laundering cases “We’ve put on a good show with all these rules and regulations,” Mr. Manchester said. “But it’s like the buildings down Main Street in an old Western movie: it looks imposing but it’s just a facade. And that’s embarrassing.” A task force official told The Globe the agency would issue a new report on Canada in about a year and “continue to monitor Canada, as it does other countries, until it has made sufficient progress to be removed from the follow-up process.”

Ballots trump bullets in latest bid for Tamils' independence

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Globe and Mail

Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 12:46AM EST

By Timothy Appleby and Beatrice Fantoni

 

Type Velupillai Thangavelu's name into an Internet search engine and the results are distinctly mixed.

One cluster of references shows Mr. Thangavelu to have been vice-president of the World Tamil Movement, outlawed by Ottawa in June, 2008, as a terrorist group and front for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in its long, ultimately fruitless battle against the Sri Lankan military.

Along with its legitimacy, the WTM lost its home on Cosentino Drive in Scarborough and its bank account, seized by authorities.

These days, however, Mr. Thangavelu has a new mission: Helping organize the Canadian component of a multinational referendum in which the Tamil diaspora is being asked whether – like the Tigers – it favours creation of an independent Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka.

Tamil Canadians will vote in the referendum today at 31 polling stations, most in the Greater Toronto Area, home to the majority of the country's 200,000-plus Tamils.

Mr. Thangavelu offers no apologies for his past, saying the image of the Canadian-based WTM was badly distorted by the government and federal security agencies, and that the group has, in any case, been dissolved.

But he concedes the game has changed since May when, amid horrific scenes of civilian suffering in which both sides were accused of atrocities, the Sri Lankan military finally crushed the Tigers' 23-year struggle for independence.

“The goal is the same, but now we are re-mandating our political aspirations,” Mr. Thangavelu said.

“We tried ballots – it failed. So we tried bullets and that failed. And now we have come back full circle and come to ballots.”

Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax and Cornwall are the other venues for today's vote, orchestrated by the Coalition for Tamil Elections Canada.

Participants will be asked to approve the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution, a 1976 document declaring the Tamils' right to form a separate state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

Similar referendums have already been held in Norway and France – Yes was the reported outcome in both – and next up will be Britain.

“There are multiple views on the issue,” said coalition spokeswoman Darshika Selvasivam. “That's why the referendum needs to speak for itself.”

And while the ultimate aim is independence, the short-term hope is to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government to allow a widened role for the country's Tamil minority in parliamentary and presidential elections expected in January.

Whatever the outcome of those elections, Mr. Thangavelu and 28 other Tamil Canadians will be organizing another vote in April, this time to create a de facto government-in-exile.

Not all expatriate Tamils are cheering on the referendum, or even taking part.

“We're just watching it with interest,” said David Poopalapillai, spokesman for the Toronto-based Canadian Tamil Congress, the mainstream non-profit organization that bills itself as the voice of Tamil Canadians, with 11 chapters across the country.

“We have lots of other things in our basket, there are many other problems, though we welcome any democratic process.”

(Mr. Thangavelu, who hopes to see up to 50,000 ballots cast in the referendum, dismissed the CTC as “an elitist institution … They should be involved, but they're not.”)

Even less impressed than Mr. Poopalapillai is Bandula Jayasekara, Sri Lanka's consul-general in Toronto, who recently described the referendum as “laughable,” and said its proponents were being misled.

Whatever its merits, it underscores an evolution seen in many other parts of the world: Extremists who re-emerge as moderates.

“Historically this has happened time and time again,” said Chris Mathers, a former RCMP officer who heads his own consulting firm, chrismathers inc., specializing in fraud, money laundering, terrorism and organized-crime issues.

“A lot of the leaders of Israel were considered to be extremists by the British government in the 1940s. Sinn Fein [the political wing of the Irish Republican Army] is another perfect example.

“People have short memories about things like that. When Yasser Arafat can get the Nobel Peace Prize, the world is a wacky place.”

Mr. Thangavelu readily agrees that other former members of the proscribed World Tamil Movement are taking a role in the Coalition for Tamil Elections Canada, a group that Ms. Selvasivam describes as “politically neutral.”

And legally there seems to be no reason why they should not.

“It's the organization that's banned,” Mr. Mathers said, “not the people in it.”

Recruitment - Compliance Officer

Sunday, December 28, 2008

chrismathers inc. has been engaged by a Canadian financial institution to identify candidates for the role of Chief Compliance Officer for their banking and foreign exchange operations. 

Passport theft in Canada increasing dramatically

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TORONTO -- After a dramatic spike in reports of lost and stolen passports over the past two years, Passport Canada is giving additional scrutiny to passport applications across the country and warning travellers to protect their travel documents.

In 2007, 37,650 passports were reported lost or stolen, compared to 24,792 in 2005. The numbers, obtained by The Canadian Press, were recently circulated in a memo warning staff to double-check applications for new passports when the old document is reported missing.

"Lost and stolen passports are extremely valuable to criminal organizations to facilitate and perpetrate illegal/clandestine operations such as human trafficking, smuggling, money laundering and terrorism,'' said the memo.

In February 2008, Passport Canada began cross-checking applicants' names with the Canadian Police Information Centre, which links law enforcement organizations across the country.

"In taking a report of loss or theft, take an extra second to review the form to detect inconsistencies,'' warned the memo.

The rise in thefts and losses coincides with a jump in the number of passports processed annually.

"During 2005-06, Passport Canada processed an unprecedented three million passports,'' said a recent auditor general's report.

"In comparison, it processed about 2.7 million passports in 2004-05 and 1.7 million in 2001-02.''

But security experts warned Wednesday that increased security features and better communication between government departments may not be enough to stay ahead of organized criminal groups, who make big money on stolen passports.

Some countries fare worse than others.

For example, in Spain, reported thefts have doubled since 2003, meaning more Canadian passports go missing in that country than anywhere else in the world, according to Andre Lemay, a spokesman from Passport Canada.

"That's not surprising,'' said Benjamin Perrin, an assistant law professor at the University of British Columbia who specializes in international law and human trafficking.

Spain has been identified as a major entry point for illegal immigration from Africa and South America.

"They need to be able to move and move with impunity,'' he said of many criminals, who often can't cross borders under their own names.

"Plugging the hole in Spain and finding the reasons for it should be a priority for the Canadian government,'' said Perrin.

Perrin added that an auditor general's report in 2005 found it took much too long -- 35 days -- for law enforcement officials to share information about stolen passports, meaning a possible month-long free pass for criminals looking to travel between borders.

Along with drug trafficking, Perrin added that dealing in stolen and faked passports is now a major source of revenue for criminal groups.

Chris Mathers, a security expert and former RCMP agent, agreed.

"People will buy them off you, and Canadian passports are of great value,'' he said, adding that even old or cancelled passports can be resold.

"If you've got a legitimate passport, it's a lot easier task to phoney up one, because you've got the actual materials,'' he said.

"They're still a commodity that criminals will pay quite a bit for.''

While the government has only recently issued warnings about thefts in Spain, the travel industry has long been aware of the problem, said Association of Canadian Travel Agencies president Christiane Theberge.

Theberge said last year, 182,000 Canadians travelled to Spain, making it the 11th most popular destination for Canadian travellers.

Lemay said 496 Canadian passports were stolen in Spain last year, compared to 4,746 stolen worldwide.

Theberge said ACTA often issues reminders to ensure travellers know the threat in Spain and other countries.

"Just be very cautious, be sure your passport is secure,'' she said.

 

The Canadian Press

Bernier affair a security issue: experts

Thursday, May 08, 2008

OTTAWA - Some security experts are taking issue with the Conservative government's characterization of the Maxime Bernier affair as a private matter, saying questionable personal links could leave the minister - and Canadian interests - vulnerable.

Opposition MPs pilloried the Tories on Thursday over revelations the foreign affairs minister's ex-girlfriend, Julie Couillard, consorted with at least two outlaw bikers as recently as the late 1990s.

The Conservatives repeatedly brushed aside opposition cries that Bernier had placed national security at risk by allowing a woman with apparently unsavoury ties to enter his orbit.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Bernier and other top Tories insisted it's nobody's business.

But Chris Mathers, a security consultant who spent years as an undercover RCMP officer, said Bernier's close associates must be closely scrutinized.

"It's a security issue, for sure. . . It's not a private thing when you associate with someone who has criminal associates, and you're a person in authority.

"The reason that's bad is that there could be some type of extortion of the woman, of the minister himself - there's all sorts of potential things that could happen."

Mathers says ties to the murky domain of organized crime, however tenuous, could prove problematic: "It's a world where rumour and innuendo rule."

Wesley Wark, a University of Toronto historian and expert in security and intelligence, also rejected the government line.

"It's a serious matter because cabinet ministers are privy to the most sensitive information available to the government of Canada," he said.

"And we expect them to be very responsible in terms of, first of all, how they handle that kind of information. They're in the same kind of position any senior official with access to highly classified material would be."

Wark pointed out that romantic entanglements with security implications - most notably the Gerda Munsinger affair - have previously ensnared Canadian politicians.

Conservative Pierre Sevigny, one of John Diefenbaker's ministers, resigned from cabinet in 1963 following an affair with Munsinger, a prostitute and Soviet spy.

In 1985, Tory defence minister Robert Coates stepped down after word of his visit to a strip bar in West Germany.

"It's something that we do have some history with," Wark said. "And there are legitimate reasons to be concerned whenever a cabinet minister finds himself in the orbit of people who may have organized crime connections."

However, another expert said it's important not to tar Bernier with guilt by association.

Wade Deisman, a criminologist and director of the University of Ottawa's national security project, said much of what's been said and written about Couillard is based on hearsay.

"She has never been convicted of a criminal offence. All that's been said about her is that she associated with criminals at some point, or people who were involved in organized crime."

Jim Bronskill

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Returning stolen goods to owners a tough task

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Elise Stolte, The Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - Police will face a real challenge trying to find the owners of $280,000 worth of recovered stolen goods, says money- laundering expert Chris Mathers.

"They'll be lucky to identify 10 per cent of it," he said.

Without identifying who the property belongs to,

On Feb. 23, Edmonton police found roughly 400 stolen items including power tools, building supplies and home electronics after a tip about a stolen truck led them to a north-end resi-dence.

Police announced charges Tuesday, but only 37 out of the 400 items have been returned to the owners, said acting detective James Vanderland.

Anyone who thinks their belongings might be in the find can go to the north division police station and look through a binder of photographs.

While the value of the find is impressive, most finds of this size don't result in as many charges, said Mathers.

"It's a good bust," he said. "But it's really difficult to identify these things."

The Toronto-based crime expert worked as an undercover RCMP officer for 20 years, then published a book on money laundering.

He now gives workshops on theft prevention and money laundering across the country.

From the recent find, the items marked with company names or with serial numbers were registered with police as stolen, and have already been returned to their owners, Vanderland said. The rest are stored in a police warehouse.

One local construction company marked all its equipment with blue and orange paint. Police called the owner when they found his name and number written on one item. He went through the photographs and identified nine items from the blue and orange marks.

Other companies haven't made similar efforts, Vanderland said. Often if the theft is less than their $10,000 insurance deductible, they don't report the theft to the police, passing the cost off instead to the end consumer. One oil refinery east of the city has a $100,000 deductible.

"We need companies to call us," Vanderland said. "You need to document it. You need to help us out, too."

Most of the stolen goods were found in a home near 118th Avenue and 58th Street. Police got a tip about a stolen truck and sent several plainclothes officers who watched three people load the truck with power tools stored in the garage.

Officers pulled over the truck, then searched the house and found more than 300 power tools, high-end electronics and bicycles in the house, on three flat-deck trailers in the yard and in the garage.

They found 65 more items, mainly building supplies and power tools, in a storage unit across the city.

Police arrested a 43-year-old man driving the stolen truck, a 29-year-old woman living in the rented house, and issued a warrant for a 34-year-old man who also lives at the house. They've been charged with 20 counts of possession of stolen property among them.

The couple had only been renting the house for a month, Vanderland said. The house seemed to be a collection point, where stolen goods would be bought for cents on the dollar and resold.

"I think it's all small-time guys," he said. "It's the same group, but how organized they are, I don't know."

estolte@thejournal.canwest.com

police can't lay charges.

FinCEN and OCC Assess Civil Money Penalties Against Union Bank of California

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced the assessment of concurrent civil money penalties, each $10 million, against Union Bank of California, N.A. (Union Bank ) of San Francisco, California, for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. Union Bank, without admitting or denying the allegations, consented to payment of the civil money penalties, which will be satisfied by a single payment of $10 million to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Union Bank also consented to issuance of a Cease and Desist Order by the OCC.

The enforcement actions are part of coordinated actions with the U.S. Department of Justice, which issued a Deferred Prosecution Agreement and accompanying $21,600,000 forfeiture in connection with charges that Union Bank failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.

The OCC concurrently issued a Cease and Desist Order requiring Union Bank to take certain corrective actions. The OCC based its assessment of a $10 million civil money penalty, and issuance of a Cease and Desist Order, on failure of Union Bank to establish and maintain an adequate anti-money laundering program and to file timely suspicious activity reports

The OCC's actions are based on its determination that Union Bank failed to adequately monitor certain Mexican casa de cambio accounts, and failed to identify and file hundreds of suspicious activity reports in a timely manner. Union Bank also failed to comply with the requirements of a Memorandum of Understanding it entered into in 2005, including an article that required the bank improve its processes for identifying and reporting suspicious transactions. Union Bank's failures resulted in the movement of millions of dollars of suspected proceeds of drug sales through certain casa de cambio accounts without detection or reporting of the suspicious transactions. At the most recent examination the OCC found that the bank's financial intelligence unit still was ineffective in detecting and reporting suspicious activity, as required by the MOU.

In assessing a $10 million civil money penalty, FinCEN determined that Union Bank failed to implement an adequate anti-money laundering program reasonably designed to identify and report transactions that exhibited indicia of money laundering or other suspicious activity, considering the types of products and services offered by the Bank, the volume of its business, and the nature of its customers. Union Bank failed to monitor Mexican casa de cambio transactions and report suspicious activity, despite knowledge of the heightened risk of money laundering posed by those Bank customers.

Cobra relevancia política ‘conozca a su cliente’

Sunday, June 18, 2006

La Prensa - Panama

Los agentes residentes de sociedades anónimas también deberán estar alerta con sus clientes.   Chris Mathers reconoció los esfuerzos de Panamá en combatir el blanqueo de capitales.

 

Esta semana, cinco empresas registradas en Panamá fueron incluidas en la "lista negra" del Departamento del Tesoro de Estados Unidos por ayudar al blanqueo de capitales de una red delictiva colombiana.

Chris Mathers, experto internacional en seguridad financiera y crimen organizado, reconoció ayer durante una conferencia con funcionarios bancarios, los esfuerzos de Panamá en combatir este delito, pero advirtió que hay que incentivar los controles para que los delincuentes "se vayan del barrio". La clave está, subrayó, en aplicar rigurosamente la política ‘conoce a tu cliente’, en todas las actividades económicas.

Mathers presentó diversos casos e informó sobre las muchas maneras que buscan los delincuentes para ocultar su verdadera identidad y lograr su objetivo final, y por ello destacó la importancia de que los oficiales de cumplimento estén en constante capacitación.

La superintendente de Bancos, Delia Cárdenas, resaltó que se hace necesario que las firmas de abogados reporten operaciones sospechosas y que profundicen más sobre la política de ‘conozca a su cliente’.

"Lo van a tener que hacer", advirtió, a la vez que recomendó a los abogados que renuncien a ser agentes residentes de una sociedad en la cual haya una persona que no merece ser representada por una firma seria.

Por su parte, los profesionales de la abogacía que actúan como agentes residentes de una sociedad anónima panameña, se han comprometido a hacer las gestiones para conocer a sus clientes, así como a cooperar con las autoridades en casos de investigaciones penales que involucren a sociedades anónimas.

"La abogacía panameña es de las pocas que se han comprometido legalmente a evitar que los vehículos jurídicos que se crearon para el ejercicio legal del comercio, sean utilizados para delinquir", dijo Mercedes Araúz de Grimaldo, presidenta del Colegio Nacional de Abogados.

 

Edith Castillo Duarte

ecastillo@prensa.com

The Bay Street Bull - An interview with Chris Mathers

Saturday, October 01, 2005

WE MEET AT THECORNER OF KING AND BAY, underneath the big Bank of Montreal clock. Hundreds of business people rush by. This isn’t the usual place to do an interview, but Chris Mathers prefers it this way. He likes meeting people outdoors, where he can walk, talk and watch passersby for any familiar faces.

“Surely,” I ask, “no one is listening to us?” “Darlin’, you never know,” he replies, sounding almost like a private eye off the pages of a Raymond Chandler book. “Walk down a street where employees are hanging out, taking a smoke break. Go into a bar or a restaurant. You’re bound to hear things that you shouldn’t. People like to talk and eavesdropping is only human nature. It’s, like, Spy School 101.”

A former undercover cop turned self-employed corporate gumshoe, Mathers is a Philip Marlowe for the 21st century, with a talent for forensic IT work coupled with basic instinct and an old-fashioned, politically incorrect vocabulary that includes words like “dames,” “dicks,” “chicks” and “baloney.”

Today, he looks très Bay Street in a pale pink Zegna shirt, black pants and black designer oxfords – one of 60 pairs of shoes he admits to keeping in his closet. It’s what he wears to blend into the country’s financial heart. He keeps an office near here in order to be close to corporate clients whose problems range from frauds and website breaches straight through to plain old blackmail and, yes, corporate espionage. “Fact is,” he says, turning in a circle and flinging out an arm as if to take in every skyscraper, “you throw a stone high enough here in any direction, chances are you’ll hit a criminal or would-be-criminal.”

I’m here to talk to him about corporate spying. Those like Mathers, who work in the underbelly of the corporate world, understand that Air Canada’s $220-million lawsuit against WestJet for stealing company data such as passenger-load lists is only the tip of the iceberg. And, as with most icebergs, the danger is largely hidden; this is because companies are reticent to even admit that they have been victims. After all, such information can spook shareholders and adversely affect stock prices.

Former RCMP commissioner Norman Inkster, now working in the private sector, says that instead, the companies call in the consultants. “What they invariably say at first is ‘I want to get my money back,’ ” he tells me. The damage stemming from such non-disclosure is enormous. In 1996, a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) team estimated that the theft of industrial and economic secrets in Canada was costing the country a staggering $1 billion a month. And according to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former CSIS operative who requested the study, the organization has also identified no less than 24 different countries that are actively stealing secrets from Canadian companies. Along with the usual suspects like China, they include “friends,” such as the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Israel and South Africa.

“We’re not only bleeding; we’re hemorrhaging,” Juneau-Katsuya says.
Meanwhile, a similar study conducted around the same time in the U.S. found that the Americans, whose economy is at least 10 times bigger than ours, was losing $2 billion a month. In response, they introduced the Economic Espionage Act in 1996. While it hasn’t erased the practice of stealing secrets, it was at least a recognition that the law needed to exponentially increase the penalties for such crimes, including jail time.

The Canadian response has been the exact opposite. There are no laws here to counter stealing of corporate secrets. There isn’t even federal recognition that the problem exists.

Which brings me back to Mathers, one of those operatives whose job is to find the spies and stop them cold. Think of him as the guy who spies on the spies. In the murky world of corporate skulduggery, he circumvents what he calls the country’s willingness to be a patsy, all the while treading a fine bottom line between right, wrong and completely unethical.

'You throw a stone high 
enough here in any direction, 
chances are you'll hit a criminal 
or a would-be criminal'

“We find it hard to think that most corporate ‘spies’ are folks like you or me, co-opted for money or through circumstance,” notes Mathers. “They could be janitors paid the minimum wage, middle managers unhappy that they didn’t get that big promotion, or longtime employees stuck with big bills for alimony and child support.” They could be strangers who walk in carrying toolkits to repair computers or phones, or they could be properly suited and tied, with official looking business cards. They could be the attractive women sitting next to you at the bar, or they could be posing as students working on papers.

Business is business, after all, and corporate espionage is but another way to beat a competitor and gain a bigger market share, all the while avoiding spending big bucks for research and development. “Listen, if you’re going to be gathering competitive intelligence, [in order] to get anything of value, you’re going to break the law. Say you’re at the printer and your competitor’s annual report is sitting there. Are you to ignore it or look at it?
“How many angels,” he continues, “can dance on the head of a pin?”

Born in Montreal to a CN railway worker and a stay-at-home mother, Mathers, now 50, spent his early years in the tough Point St-Charles neighbourhood in the south-central section of the city near the railroad tracks. Even as a kid, he was attracted to the seamier side of life. He hung out in Montreal’s downtown and watched people shoot up heroin. He called prostitutes by their first names and knew guys who drove hijacked trucks filled with stolen goods. “I never did any of that stuff myself,” he cautions. “For some reason, I just wanted to know about it.”

Maybe that’s what RCMP officers sensed when they came across him working as a bouncer in a popular bar in London, Ont. At the time, he was studying genetics at the University of Western Ontario and wondering what to do next. When the Mounties suggested he sign up, he did. Soon, he went undercover, working drug, gun and illicit cash deals as if he’d been doing it his whole life.

Mathers’ nickname during his 20 years on the force was ‘Big Action.’ Once, when he was running a money exchange sting just off of Bay Street, he found himself in the men’s washroom with a legitimate businessman who worked in the same building. “What do you guys do over there?” the man asked, curious. “We mind our own business,” Mathers snarled back.

Inkster, who went on to become the global managing partner of KPMG’s forensics group before starting his own consulting firm, says Mathers could role-play like nobody’s business. It didn’t matter if he was the tough head of the illegitimate money exchange house or a tacky tourist in the Caribbean, complete with loud printed shirt and camera around his neck as he chatted up the owner of a burned-down enterprise who’d claimed the fire had devoured costly merchandise that a Canadian businessman sent him. “Chris being Chris, he got the fellow to tell him chapter and verse about the fact he’d moved the product out before the fire and was trying to collect on both ends,” Inkster says. “He has a sense of...drama.”

At times, his characters have gotten Mathers in big trouble, especially during the few years he had to hide out in a rural Ontario farmhouse until members of a Colombian drug gang who were trying to kill him had been prosecuted and put in jail.
But the characters have also helped make him aware of how things work beneath their façade. He laughs out loud when I tell him about Target of Opportunity, a DVD that a former KPMG operative loaned me, in which one man wreaks havoc with a company’s digital and hard-copy resources in only three days, stealing secrets right, left and centre as he romps, unchallenged, through corridors, offices and boardrooms.

“Well,” he says, “that might as well be real life.” Companies are lulled into thinking their security is tight, thank you very much, but when they hire his firm to do both physical and electronic penetration tests, they fail. Every time.

Citing confidentiality agreements he signed in blood, practically, he can’t tell me which companies he is working for. But he tells me stories about computer passwords that are too easy or bypassed altogether, and laptops that are blithely used in full view of other people, especially on airplanes. “It’s naïve to believe that the person sitting next to you is not interested in the sensitive document you’re working on, or even the airline itself,” he says. “Hell, I know of one international airline that has microphones in the executive class area that pilots can switch on and off at will.”

He’s on a roll now, moving from lax computer security to lax security, period. One of his current contracts is to test how easy it is to physically break into a local firm. Turns out all it took were several cigarettes and some friendly banter. “By the time my guys tried to get in, the security guards actually held the doors open for them,” he snorts. “The directors were, um, shocked, to say the least.”

He plans to step up the test next time around, sending in one of his men in a big cardboard box labelled “top secret” or something similar. It will arrive at the end of the day, be taken in and left alone, so that, after closing time, the guy will pop out, wander around taking pictures in compromising places and cool his heels until the next morning.

That’s not all. He ticks off his fingers as he lists ever more tricks of the corporate spy trade. Steal a stack of business cards and pretend they’re yours. Call someone’s office around 1:30 p.m., after the permanent receptionist is well into the lunch hour, and you get a replacement who has no idea you weren’t talking to the boss before and will unwittingly give you information about meetings and schedules.

The honey trap works. 
'If I were a CEO, the last 
thing I'd want is my guys 
out talking to young dames'

He once knew a charming, elderly ex-RCMP operative who is often hired by companies to penetrate their offices, who’d totter into them when the bosses aren’t there, chat up the receptionists, convince them he’s supposed to wait in their bosses’ offices until the bosses come back, steal everything he could get his hands on and quietly slip out while they’re on the phone or in the bathroom.

There’s the “no-fail” phone call by a woman with a British accent because, for some reason, he says we trust women with British accents more than anyone else in the world.

Or the scam in which corporate spies call you in for an interview for the dream job of your lifetime and encourage you to tell them just what it is you’re up to these days.

Some spies get really creative. Consider the Asian businessmen who were allegedly planning a joint venture with an Ontario company and went on a tour of the factory just before they were to sign the partnership agreement. Or another group of businessmen who wore rubber-soled shoes to pick up metal filings they later analyzed that gave them the secret to the manufacture of the particular alloy. The end result? There was no partnership agreement, and proprietary information was stolen.

Then, there’s what Mathers calls the “honey trap,” in which sex is used to catch someone with highly prized knowledge in a most compromising position, especially when the person is married with children. “I know it sounds sexist and all, but it works,” he says. “If I were a CEO, the last thing I’d want is my guys out talking to young dames. That can be dangerous.” So, I ask, who should be on alert?

People who can influence public markets, he replies. People who make their living predicting the future. People who work in high-tech, low-tech and paper, in mining, pharmaceuticals, software and soda drinks. People whose ideas are worth more than the paper they’re printed on. Because that’s a problem when it comes to criminal charges here: No matter what’s stolen, the Criminal Code counts only the actual, not potential, value.

Just ask Mitel, the Ottawa-based telecommunications giant that, according to reports, lost an estimated 10 years of research and up to $1 billion in estimated market share in the 1990s when a 16-year employee sold some of its trade secrets to the Vietnamese government. To Van Tran was charged with one count of fraud and one count of possession of stolen property over $5,000. In October 2001, he was fined a grand total of $25,000 – half of what he was paid by the Vietnamese – and he spent nary a day in jail.

The case helps bolster Mathers’ contention that people in Canada spend hardly any time in jail for hard crimes, never mind those that can be classified as white-collar crimes.

It doesn’t take much to bolster your security. Be proactive, Mathers says. Check out the people you’re thinking of hiring or doing business with before you give them the keys to your kingdom and you’ll eliminate 95 percent of problems. That way, chances are you’ll never have to hire someone to comb through company garbage, which people like Mathers hate doing. 
“Hey,” he says,” this is a Zegna shirt. A $250 shirt. You think I’ll go into dumpsters? No. Thank. You. At $450 an hour, I don’t think my clients want me swimming around in a dumpster. If someone wants a dumpster diver, I’m going to send them to see a low-end private investigator.
“Aw, damn. Is that a soy sauce stain?”