The hotel is a renovated 15th Century convent near Milan’s financial and shopping districts.
Anthis carried an upscale shopping bag with more than 300,000 euros inside. He handed it to Chamas, who in turn gave it to his driver to put in the hotel room. The men then went to a restaurant before moving on for some drinks to cap the night.
The next morning, Sept. 19, 2007, Chamas and his driver drove back to Switzerland in a Mercedes. The car was stopped by Swiss customs agents at the Brogeda-Chiasso border crossing.
They took the men’s passports and asked the driver to park the car.
“I said have 300,000 euros with me from this guy who owed me money,” said Chamas. “They say, ‘we cannot let you go, we have to verify.’ All of a sudden we see police come in and (they) say ‘you are under arrest to make sure you are not laundering.'”
Chamas was arrested by police from the Swiss canton of Ticino. They suspected him of money laundering because he did not have the proper documentation detailing the source of the money, according to a copy of the Swiss police report obtained by APTN National News.
The customs agents took the euros, 29 credit cards and a file Chamas carried on the Laurentian Bank.
Swiss authorities also froze $2 million US in one of his UBS Bank of Zurich accounts. Most of the money in the account originated from Canada, according to Swiss investigators who relayed the information to the RCMP.
Chamas was transported to Ferrera, which is about 130 kilometres north of the Swiss-Italian border, according to the report.
The report noted that he had three companies in Switzerland, Fidelis Group Holding, Fidelis Trust and Equitycap.
Police also discovered that he had previously been part of company with a convicted money launderer named Edoardo Morandi and they wanted to investigate the relationship.
Chamas had also been investigated in France for suspected fraudulent activity, the report said.
Chamas said the RCMP contacted French police in the mid-1990s after he left Canada for a short time and authorities launched an investigation.
Chamas said he spent the first night in a cell with a “crazy” guy accused of murder. The next morning he said he was questioned and then put in another cell by himself.
Chamas said he was questioned in a room with a one-way mirror covering one wall. He said the police interrogator asked him about his business dealings in Canada, Dubai and other parts of the world like Venezuela.
Chamas said he faced the same routine for two weeks. Every morning he was taken from his cell and questioned until about 5 p.m.
Throughout his questioning, the interrogator would often be interrupted by calls to his cell phone. The interrogator would then leave the room and Chamas said he would overhear a conversation with someone named “Mark.”
Sometimes the interrogator would return and abruptly change his line of questioning after these phone calls.
“It was always Mark, Mark,” said Chamas. “He would never ask me (anything) without going to talk to this guy Mark.”
Chamas said he believes Mark was an RCMP officer working on the Operation Cancun file and tracking Guarino and Anthis, who were both under surveillance.
The daily interrogations took a psychological toll, said Chamas.
One night, Chamas said he asked for a pencil and wrote a suicide note to his wife and children on the back of the piece of paper outlining the allegations against him of money laundering.
Among the hundreds of documents seized by police when they raided Chamas’ house on March 26, 2008, was a five-page suicide letter dated Sept. 21, 2007, court records show.
He said he then tried to attach the bed sheet to the window in his cell to hang himself.
“I put a chair up to it,” he said. “They saw that…they took me and beat the hell out of me and put me in an isolated cell with no windows, nothing.”
Chamas said he then started to bang his head against the wall and refused to eat. He said he was injected with an unknown substance.
“They were (injecting) me all the time,” said Chamas.
Anthis eventually provided Chamas’ lawyer with documentation on the source of the money which was Anthis’ bank account, he said.
He was released On Oct. 4 and ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs, according to the RCMP affidavit used to obtain the search warrant on Chamas’ house in Lorrain, Que., on March 26, 2008.