Canadian hospital boss in historic corruption case reported dead in Panama

A former health chief facing bribery charges related to the construction of a major new hospital in Montreal is reported to have died from cancer in Panama, where he had been imprisoned.

Arthur Porter, former director general of McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), was detained by Interpol in Panama in May 2013 following a warrant for his arrest issued by Canadian police.

Arthur Porter, former director general of McGill University Health Centre (credit: MUHC)

Porter is alleged to have orchestrated a bribery scheme to channel CAN$22.5m from former executives at Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, who won the CAN$1.3bn contract to build the new MUHC in 2010.

Porter had successfully resisted extradition to Canada since his arrest.

A physician and cancer specialist himself, he had been diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2013, before his arrest. 

After his arrest he complained to the United Nations that he was denied medical treatment, in violation of his human rights.

In March this year a UN report backed his claims.

Pamela Porter, his wife, confirmed his death to Canada’s CBC News this week, on 1 July.

In December 2014 Pamela Porter pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering in connection with the MUHC bribery case, which police have described as the largest fraud in Canadian history. She admitted that she used nearly $10m to purchase properties. She was sentenced to 33 months in prison but was released earlier this month on parole.

Yesterday Canadian police said they would send investigators to Panama to confirm Arthur Porter’s death because no official confirmation had come from the Panamanian authorities.

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