The part about the suspect (VIII)

Early on a Monday morning, the undercover officer watched as his target walked out of a Montreal apartment building, entered a black Mercedes parked on the street and drove off.


By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News

Early on a Monday morning, the undercover officer watched as his target walked out of a Montreal apartment building, entered a black Mercedes parked on the street and drove off.

The officer, a member of the RCMP’s proceeds of crime unit, then entered the apartment building through the unlocked front door and rang the doorbell marked 2.

A woman emerged, up on the landing of the stairs.

The officer asked, “Is Nick there?”

The woman said, “He’ll be back in five minutes,” and gestured with her open hand.

The police had now confirmed the residence of Nicolas Anthis.

It was 8: 45 a.m., March 17, 2008.

Anthis was a suspect under surveillance during Operation Cancun, but he was never arrested.

He is identified in police files as an “employee” of Michael Chamas, a Lebanese-Canadian businessman who police suspected was the “banker” for the drug network targeted in the operation.

The RCMP suspected that Anthis landed investors for Chamas’ many business activities around the globe.

At one point, he arranged to transfer $1 million through Quebec gas station company Olco Petroleum to one of Chamas’ companies, Fidelis Financial Services, according to court records.

Chamas says Anthis owed him the money from a legitimate arrangement that fell through.

The Feb. 23, 2007, transfer appeared to have been arranged in an email from Anthis’ gmail account to Despina Leventis, Olco’s former financial officer.  The information was contained in a Feb. 16, 2007 email stored in one of Leventis’ computers that were seized as part of a lawsuit against her launched by Olco.

The email was obtained by the RCMP through a warrant.

The email message had the subject line, “Re: Banking information to swift,” and the body contained the coordinates to transfer money into one of Chamas’ Swiss bank accounts with the UBS bank.

Olco launched a lawsuit against Leventis alleging she embezzled about $8. 7 million while she was working for the company.

Anthis’ name was number four on a list of points the RCMP wanted to touch on during their interview with Daniele Guarino, one of the men caught in the Operation Cancun dragnet on March 26, 2008. Chamas’ name is point three on the list.

Guarino was charged with three weapons offences and was suspected of laundering money from marijuana smuggling through Akwesasne.

Guarino told his interrogator, Cpl. John Athanasiades, he met Anthis at a Montreal Dunkin’ Donuts. Anthis knew Guarino’s brother, who was assassinated in a suspected drug hit on March 9, 2007.

“He recognized me and gave me his condolences, and voila,” said Guarino. “He knew my brother well.”

The two became friends. They started having coffees in the morning. Both men had young daughters.

Soon after their initial meeting at the donut shop, Guarino said Anthis introduced him to Chamas.

They started working on a deal to ship construction material like concrete, softwood and reinforced iron to Dubai. Guarino would find the supplies and Chamas would find the buyers.

“(Anthis) is in on the construction deal because of the introduction,” Guarino told Athanasiades. “It was my idea. Mr. Chamas would facilitate it.”

Guarino said that he travelled with Chamas to Dubai and met several people with “Arab names.”

“I was hoping to do some business with Michael,” said Guarino. “He is hopefully going to get me the contract to supply these people with construction material.”

Chamas and Guarino left for Dubai on March 3, 2008. Anthis saw both men off that day.

In a conversation with another man recorded by police, Anthis calls Guarino their “Italian associate.”

Anthis was arrested this past Aug. 14 in Henderson, Nev., by U.S. Immigration and Customs agents.

Anthis, 41, was then transferred into the hands of the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts as one of several individuals indicted earlier in April for allegedly laundering  money as part of a drug trafficking network that brought in marijuana from Quebec and distributed

it throughout Massachusetts with the help of a crooked cop from Watertown, Mass.

At least one of the organization’s Canadian contacts was in Montreal, according to the indictment filed in U.S. Federal Court.

Anthis was charged with lying to Drug Enforcement Administration and ICE agents during a meeting on Oct. 20, 2010, in Bridgewater, Mass., about the source of $1,041,990US that was seized by authorities, according to the indictment.

Anthis, and another man whose name is blacked out in the document, claimed that the money came from “legitimate investors” in the U.S. for the purchase of gold, “when in fact the defendants…knew that (the) U.S. currency was the proceeds of drug trafficking.”

He was also charged with helping the organization’s alleged ringleader, Safwan “Sammy” Madarati, launder drug money and execute financial transactions to import marijuana from Canada.

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