Anonymous Companies: Global Witness undercover investigation shows 25% of lawyers will money launder

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

An undercover investigation by Global Witness found that twenty-five percent of the New York lawyers they approached were willing to become involved in moving suspect monies into the United States. Several of the lawyers even suggested that their trust accounts could be used for the purpose.

The Global Witness investigation highlights the role of anonymously-owned companies in avoiding detection of money laundering. Most of the unethical lawyers in the hidden videos suggested using anonymously-owned companies and even layers of companies to money-launder.

What is most shocking about the 25% rate of corruption is that these were all cold calls by an undercover investigator.

A stranger walked in the door and 25% of the lawyers laid out strategies to enable money-laundering or otherwise agreed to participate to varying degrees. It is reasonable to assume that some of the lawyers who refused to participate did so because they were suspicious of the undercover investigator. Some would probably have agreed to money launder had they been approached by an existing client, therefore the Global Witness figure of 25% is probably low. Perhaps very low.

Gerald L Ranking Fasken noncopyright Photo-SAN

Fasken Martineau Toronto lawyer Gerald L Ranking knowingly used a phoney, non-existent ‘corporate client’ to commit fraud upon Canadian courts. Where did the million dollars go?  Why didn’t Ranking submit costs to the Supreme Court of Canada?

In context, the Global Witness investigation is nothing less than an indictment of the legal profession – including of former lawyers who are now called ‘judges’. If I belonged to a profession where 25% of my colleagues were shown to be corrupt, I’d be embarrassed, upset and determined to clean up the profession – and I don’t mean just polishing the profession’s image by making excuses.

Dirty money is dirty money, whether taken by corrupt Lawyers or corrupt Police

Donald Best from an organized crime squad photo, mid-1980's

Toronto Police Sergeant Donald Best. From an organized crime squad photo, mid-1980’s

In 1985 when I was a Toronto Police officer working undercover in 52 Division, my squad mates and I received stacks of cash as bribes from organized crime. Yes, we took the cash and much more… but please read on!

Gang members offered us hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus fabulous vacations (and stunningly gorgeous women), for doing nothing more than looking the other way and not raiding certain gambling and prostitution establishments in the heart of downtown Toronto. An extra hundred thousand dollars a year per man (tax free cash) was quite a sum in 1985.

Were we tempted? Not even for an instant.

We were police officers; steadfast, independent agents of Her Majesty and Canada, and proud of it. So we organized a sting that went on far longer and far deeper than any of us ever imagined was possible.

We took the bribes under controlled conditions and found ourselves diving deep into the corrupt relationships between organized crime, lawyers, former lawyers, politicians, public officials and law enforcement. (And no… we didn’t take the offered women. We brought in female undercover officers to pose as our squad ‘groupies’. That story deserves its own book.) Read more

Words from the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association… but do they really believe?

Canadian Superior Court Judges SAN

“No one in Canada is above the law. Everyone, no matter how wealthy or how powerful they are, must obey the law or face the consequences.”

Canadian Superior Court Judges Association ‘The Rule of Law

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Time for some honesty and reality

There are times when, despite being over 60 years old and a former police detective, I feel like a naive boy scout to have had the solid faith I once had in our Canadian justice system.

My faith was not blind, but I believed that despite the weaknesses in our system, Canadians could be assured that there were no protected classes, and that no one was truly above the law. I no longer believe that.

In my life as a police officer, I twice said the words “I am arresting you for murder” – a phrase that not many of my fellow Canadians have spoken. Not many police officers have said those words once, let alone twice.

I have arrested police officers, priests, teachers, politicians, judges, nurses, bus drivers and school-aged children for everything from unpaid parking tickets to extortion and murder.

The Privileged Classes

And, rarely over the years, I’ve seen some from the privileged classes walk free from solid criminal charges when there was no logical reason in law for that to have happened. Read more

Smuggled rum bought a farm and truck

Grandfather Best Bootlegger SAN

A Family Confession

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

As we discuss what is ethical behaviour and all the shades of right and wrong, I have a family confession: both my father and his father were bootleggers during the Depression and throughout World War II. Even as a decorated Chief Petty Officer during the Battle of the Atlantic, my father made considerable profits from smuggled rum and canned hams.

It could be fairly argued that smuggled rum and canned hams provided the financial foundation for several successful Best family businesses in Prince Edward Island and Ontario in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Indeed, it could also be said that the profits from bootleg liquor kept many a PEI family from starving during the dirty thirties. This, of course, was unbeknownst to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union wives (including my grandmother), who provided meals for the poor at the Freeland Presbyterian Church.

Profits from rum running also repaired the Freeland Presbyterian Church after the 1935 fire. Grandmother and the other womenfolk weren’t aware of the source of the re-construction funds even until they day they died. To this day my dear Aunts have no knowledge of this truth unless they read this post. Some family history is, to now, a male tradition.

The point of all this is that right and wrong, rule of law, ethics and law-breaking are not always a black/white either/or situation. Simple either/or solutions are not always possible in the real world.

That said; is is okay for lawyers to lie to the courts? Is it okay for police officers to illegally accept money from lawyers to work illegally for one side of a civil dispute?

Yes, there are shades of grey… but some behaviours can never be excused or explained away.

Bestselling author Kenneth Eade tweets the Donald Best story of lawyer and police misconduct

Author Kenneth Eade Killer Lawyer-private

A pleasant surprise this morning to wake and find that bestselling legal thriller author Kenneth Eade tweeted about my case.  @KennethEade1 

His latest book Absolute Intolerance holds the lead on Amazon’s top seller list for thrillers.

Tonight I’ll dig into Eade’s Killer.Com that comes highly recommended by an old friend.

Thanks for the mention, Mr. Eade.

Donald Best

When lawyers and police break the law together, what justice can exist for ordinary citizens?

Faskens lawyer Gerald Ranking illegally hired OPP Sergeant Jim Van Allen to perform an illegal investigation. Section he Criminal Code calls it

Fasken Martineau lawyer Gerald Ranking (left) illegally hired OPP Sergeant Jim Van Allen to perform an illegal investigation to benefit Ranking’s clients. Section 120 (1)(a)(i) & (ii) of the Criminal Code calls that ‘Bribery of a Peace Officer’

Alabama: Yet another case of corrupt police and corrupt lawyers working together. 

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Leaked documents reveal that for over ten years a group of corrupt Dothan, Alabama police officers (including the current Chief of Police) planted drugs and weapons on hundreds of innocent young black men.

Instead of stopping the practice and freeing the innocent prisoners, the local District Attorney covered up and colluded with the corrupt police.

Collusion between corrupt police and corrupt lawyers is a worrisome issue in the justice system simply because we are beginning to see increasing reports of this type. The news from Dothan, Alabama is only the latest story.

As I reported last March, Louisiana plaintiff Douglas Dendinger was arrested and charged with battery, obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness after five police officers and two prosecuting attorneys jointly provided false evidence that they saw Dendinger physically assault and intimidate a police officer as he served the officer with legal documents. Luckily for Mr. Dendinger that (as in my case) he had a hidden recording proving that the police and attorneys perjured themselves and lied to the court.

In my own case, lawyers and police committed various wrongdoing; including fabricating false and deceptive evidence, lying to the court, committing a fraud upon the court by representing a phoney non-existent business entity, anonymously threatening witnesses and illegally hiring a corrupt Ontario Provincial Police officer ‘on the side’ to perform illegal acts and other misconduct.

Canadians rely upon the legal profession to monitor the police, make rogue officers accountable and to act as a deterent. When corrupt lawyers work hand in hand with corrupt police officers, and the Law Society of Upper Canada covers up and whitewashes, how can ordinary citizens hope for justice?

Lawyer and police misconduct in Donald Best case “reads like a John Grisham novel”

John Grisham-Rogue Lawyer private

Perjury. Violence. Abduction. Threats to rape and murder witnesses. Anonymous internet threats from a Bay Street law firm. A Canadian judge’s secret backroom order.

Best vs. Ranking is just another civil lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court…

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

A judge once remarked on the record that my case reads like the plot from a John Grisham novel.

I can’t disagree. I wonder what Mr. Grisham himself might think. (Grisham photo above courtesy of the Toronto Star)

Like most Grisham novels the stakes in my case are high enough at US$120 million dollars to cause some lawyers, accountants, police officers and other professionals to step over the line.

Way over the line.

“My case is complex, but my April 23, 2015 sworn affidavit provides a basic summary and is, frankly, a pretty good page-turner at bedtime.”

Download Donald Best’s April 23, 2015 affidavit. (PDF 882kb without exhibits)

My case has seen some people on the other side (including certain lawyers and police officers) proveably commit various crimes including: fabricating evidence, lying to the court [1], fraudulently using a phoney non-existent ‘company’ as a lawyer’s client to petition the courts and transfer a million dollars [2], illegally hiring a corrupt OPP police sergeant ‘on the side’ to work against me in a civil lawsuit [3] and putting an innocent man in jail using proveably false, fabricated evidence. [4]

Welcome to civil litigation involving the Caribbean island nation of Barbados.

Also like a John Grisham novel, my witnesses, lawyers, myself and our family members have been the targets of a long-running campaign of violence, harassment and threats designed to deter us from seeking justice before the courts.

In the Greater Toronto Area, I was assaulted in the street. Also in the GTA, a man with a Caribbean accent approached and threatened one of my children over this case. My family’s auto was shot up. While my former lawyer was out of Canada litigating my case, his wife and family received an intimidating anonymous phone call from a person with a Barbados accent. My lawyer’s wife gathered up her children and fled their Orillia, Ontario home in terror; exactly as was intended by the caller.

One of my witnesses was abducted and beaten at gunpoint by a person connected with the other side in Barbados. One of my witnesses was threatened with job loss if he testified, and was fired from the University of the West Indies after he testified anyway.

Illegally and behind my back, an Ontario judge secretly substituted a changed court order in a backroom meeting; off the court record and without notifying me even though I was a self-represented litigant. This kind of judicial ‘Star Chamber’ activity regularly happens in Iran or Russia, but surely not in Canada; except when it does. [5]   Read more

The Sebastien Kwidzinski story: How senior partners taught a young articling lawyer to fabricate evidence and lie to the court.

Sebastien Kwidzinski & senior partners Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver

Sebastien Kwidzinski & senior partners Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver*

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

When Sebastien Kwidzinski arrived for work on the morning of November 17, 2009 he had no idea that by the end of the day circumstances would require him to make an ethical and legal decision; either reveal that he witnessed senior lawyers fabricating evidence and lying on the court record, or keep silent and become part of a group of Bay Street lawyers deceiving a judge with false evidence and lies.

What was a young articling student to do?

Think of the pressure to follow the lead of a senior partner who bragged of earning over a million dollars income a year. Tell the truth and you’re out; never to have a chance at a coveted Bay Street partnership. Keep the code of silence, support the team and you’re assured of achieving everything a young law student could want; an opportunity to be part of one of the most powerful legal cabals in Canada.

In Fall of 2009 Sebastien Kwidzinski was a 26-year-old fresh-faced kid working for Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP senior partner Gerald Ranking. Kwidzinski had always done well academically, graduating in 2002 at the top of his class from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. Recounting how York University sent a team to his home with a scholarship offer, Kwidzinski told the Toronto Star in 2006 that he “followed the money” and went into the law program at York U.

While at university Sebastien Kwidzinski was active in various student associations and in 2008 took a summer job with Faskens, where he was seconded to the Ontario Securities Commission. At 25 years old he was on his way to a law career with one of Canada’s largest and most respected legal firms.

As Kwidzinski excitedly headed off to his first day of work to “follow the money” with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, I wonder if he had ever read the words published by now Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Robert A Katzmann:

“As large firms have grown and multiplied, despondency about the decline of law practice from its virtuous and collegial past has intensified. Within the legal profession itself, many share the sense that law has freshly descended from a noble profession infused with civic virtue to a commercial pursuit. In the most erudite and theoretically sophisticated account of decline, the dean of the Yale Law School counsels idealistic young lawyers to stay clear of large firms, because they have a “harshly economizing spirit” and “increasingly commercial culture”.

The Law Firm and the Public Good, Robert A. Katzmann, page 40 (See ‘Some Canadian lawyers are too big to jail‘.)

Kwidzinski arrested for ‘Youthful Stupid Stunt’

But then came an incident that the Toronto Police later characterized as a youthful “stupid stunt”. On November 8, 2008 Sebastien Kwidzinski, age 25, was arrested along with two other York students and charged with false message, common nuisance and mischief interfering with property after a brown paper bag reading “I AM A BOMB” was left on a bus parked at York University. This happened two days into a strike by professors and teaching assistants of CUPE 3903. Thousands of people were evacuated from the area before the bomb squad declared the ‘bomb’ to be a hoax.   Read more

Judge: Hidden video and audio recordings prove Ontario police officer committed criminal acts

Durham Police Corruption-private

“I hurt people… and then I make their cocaine fuckin appear…”

Durham Regional Police Constable James Ebdon threatens violence and to plant drugs on motorcycle gang associate.

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

Durham Regional Police officer James Ebdon was caught in a hidden video / audio recording threatening to plant drugs and commit acts of violence against a member of the public. (You can watch and listen to the hidden recording at YouTube)

Some people might be inclined to excuse or ignore the incident because the officer threatened an associate of Hell’s Angel motorcycle gang member Harley Guindon. We cannot let the fact that the police officer was threatening a criminal associate to allay our personal and societal fear of such behaviour by police. Fabrication of evidence and perjury by police is a very dangerous and slippery slope, indeed.

In her decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Laura Bird wrote:

“The evidence establishes that Constable Ebdon committed several criminal offences in the course of his duties. He has no appreciation for the seriousness of his conduct and continues to patrol the streets of Durham. Conduct such as that exhibited by this officer has no place in our society and it must be condemned by the court.”

Quoted in the The Star

Once police or lawyers fabricate evidence and lie to the court, where does it stop?

It is true that many law enforcement officers have at one time or another (even if for only an instant) thought of planting or fabricating evidence to take down gang members or other serious criminals.

I know from my experience as a Toronto Police sergeant and internal investigator that a number of factors stop police officers from fabricating evidence or committing crimes to obtain evidence: commitment to our justice system, personal values and character, risk of getting caught and the high penalties if they are caught.

Justice Bird knows that allowing, excusing or ignoring this criminal behaviour by police officers will undermine our justice system, and so Her Honour correctly condemned the officer using the most robust language.

Ontario’s legal community soundly condemns police officers who perjure themselves before the courts, but it seems that a different standard applies to lawyers.

But what if, as in my personal case, recordings prove that Lorne Silver and Gerald Ranking (senior lawyers from two of Canada’s largest law firms) fabricated evidence and lied to the court to obtain my ‘in absentia’ conviction for contempt of court; but the courts refuse to listen to the recordings?   Read more

Body cameras only a part of the solution to re-building trust in the police

police-body-video-camera

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

The Toronto Police recently announced a one-year $500,000 pilot project to outfit 100 officers with body cameras to record investigations and dealings with the public. At first look, $5,000 per officer seems outrageous until we consider that this is a pilot study with many facets of which the physical equipment comprises only a small portion of the budget. Online research shows dedicated police body cams starting at only US$199, but the data storage and management costs typically exceed the cost of the equipment by many times per year. The costs to outfit every Toronto officer would be many millions initially, with significant ongoing costs annually.

Nonetheless, the cost/benefit ratio to both the police and Canadians in general will, I strongly believe, fall on the side of implementing the system for every police officer in contact with the public or involved in conducting investigations.

As a former Toronto Police sergeant and undercover investigator of organized crime, I know that the simple knowledge that events are being recorded has a profoundly positive effect upon the behaviours of both police officers and citizens. Even the possibility of hidden recordings due to the universal presence of cell phone videocams is already having an impact upon officer behaviour, to the benefit of all concerned.

I have often relied upon hidden audio and video recordings because they present to the court and everyone the irrefutable truth. Such recordings are only a part of the evidence and have their own limitations, but at least they deter any liars on all sides from fabricating evidence and narratives out of thin air: or expose them after they have done so as more than a few rogue police officers in Canada and the USA have discovered lately.

Other citizens commented on a recent Globe and Mail editorial praising the Toronto Police initiative, that the real test of the police body cameras will be in whether the police and justice system actually use the video recordings to hold police officers accountable for serious wrongdoing.

Time for independent civilian oversight of Ontario’s lawyers?

At least with the police, there is independent civilian oversight on several levels as well as the efforts of the media and hardworking lawyers to try to ensure justice is done and also seen to be done. Not so with Ontario’s legal profession though.   Read more

RCMP and Crown prosecutors illegally distribute Senator Mike Duffy’s email password to the public

In the Duffy case, the RCMP and Crown prosecutor committed a criminal offence under section 402.2(2)

A cynic might say that the corruption trial of suspended Senator Mike Duffy has produced no surprises, but that does not do justice to most ordinary Canadians who, despite all the standard jokes about politicians, expect and demand that laws, rules and standards should apply equally to all; including to those in positions of power and authority such as police, lawyers and Crown prosecutors.

As Ezra Levant points out in the above video, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Crown prosecutors released to the public, an unredacted version of Senator Duffy’s personal diary; including intimate communications with his wife, personal medical details and some of Senator Duffy’s Identity Information (as defined in the Criminal Code), including his email password.

Notwithstanding how disgusting it is that Canada’s national police agency and Crown prosecutors should have engaged in an act that is so obviously designed to embarrass and punish Mr. Duffy and his close family members, the release of Mr. Duffy’s email password is a criminal act, specifically prohibited by law in Canada. The fact that the reckless distribution happened in court documents is no excuse in law. Some would say the abuse of the court process makes the act even more reprehensible.

Best v Ranking civil lawsuit alleges prosecuting lawyers recklessly distributed to the public tens of thousands of documents containing Identity Information

As terrible as the actions of the police and the Crown are in the Duffy case, the amount of Identity Information illegally distributed pales in comparison with another case currently before the Ontario Superior Court.

In the Donald Best vs Gerald Ranking civil case, the plaintiff Donald Best alleges that defendants Gerald Ranking, Paul Schabas, Lorne Silver and others deliberately released and recklessly distributed to the public tens of thousands of unredacted privileged legal documents containing vast amounts of Identity Information and other personal and confidential information for Mr. Best, his family members and dozens of other persons who had nothing to do with the case before the courts.

In his March 31, 2015 affidavit asking the court to issue an injunction against the defendants, Mr. Best alleges:

“The defendants previously placed into the public domain, and recklessly distributed, tens of thousands of documents containing Identity Information and other private, confidential information for me, my family members and my company’s witnesses; and also for dozens and dozens of persons and entities who have nothing to do with me or my case.

As just one egregious example of thousands, defendants unlawfully took from the Orillia, Ontario law office of my company’s lawyers, the medical file of my lawyer’s dying mother, including end-of-life ‘do not resuscitate’ instructions to medical staff. The defendants and their ‘John Doe’ co-conspirators recklessly distributed this to members of the public, published it on the internet, and then filed it as ‘evidence’ with the court without notifying the judge. The defendants and their co-conspirators are still recklessly distributing this medical file in 2015. The defendants refuse to stop.”

Further, Mr. Best states:  Read more

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