The agency in charge of Canada’s nuclear waste says an alleged cyber criminal posing as an Indigenous chief managed to cheat the organization into paying the person almost $300,000, money meant for community development at a First Nation in Ontario.
The funds were the second of two payments totalling $600,000 from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation, part of a controversial community development effort tied to finding a host site for a $23-billion tomb to seal Canada’s stockpile of used nuclear fuel for millennia.
“Earlier this year, we were made aware that we were the victim of fraudulent cyber activity when a payment was diverted from the intended recipient,” NWMO media relations manager Bruce Logan told CBC News in an email.
“Thankfully we were able to recover most of the funds. We have also transferred the full amount to Chippewas of Saugeen, the rightful recipient.”
Court filings answer questions agency won’t
Logan said the NWMO has opened an internal investigation. It had also reported the crime to the RCMP’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, but the Mounties aren’t investigating, he said.
Logan wouldn’t answer any further questions.
However, court documents filed by lawyers for the NWMO in its attempts to find the missing money were obtained and reviewed by CBC News. They provide some insight into how the alleged scammer got away with some of the money.
According to affidavits, the agency received two emails on Dec. 21, 2021, from an email account professing to be that of Saugeen First Nation Chief Lester Anoquot.
The first email contained instructions to make the payments to an account with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) instead of the band’s usual Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) account. The second email held a copy of a void RBC cheque.
Fraudster claimed to be Saugeen chief
A series of emails were then exchanged between the person claiming to be the chief and agency officials as they tried to sniff out the legitimacy of the sudden change in payment instructions, the court documents said.
On Dec. 29, 2021, the NWMO made an electronic payment to the specified account in good faith. The court documents said it wasn’t until Jan. 27, 2022, when the band council said the money never arrived, that NWMO officials realized the account claiming to be that of the chief had been compromised.
The documents said at that point, NWMO officials realized they knew neither the identity of the person who received the money nor how much was spent.
According to the documents, lawyers for the nuclear waste agency then applied for a Norwich order, a rare move in Canadian law that would compel an innocent third party to turn over information to aid a prosecution.
A Toronto court placed a restraint order on the account on March 9, 2022, court filings said. At the time, there was a remaining balance of $228,465.07.
Anoquot declined to comment to CBC News on the matter, saying the band council is still trying to determine its next steps.
“We are still discussing a path forward [and] are not prepared to do a story yet,” he wrote in an email.
Bank records included in court filings
But RBC records included in the court filings indicate the account in question belonged to a Robert Soloman Gruger, who runs a company called RSG Ventures, registered at a residential address in Burlington, Ont.
The home is a former duplex and is currently listed for sale on the province’s Multiple Listing Services website. Google Streetview images show the property undergoing extensive renovations. No one is currently living at the residence.
The bank records state the physical address of RSG Ventures is a commercial plaza in Oakville, Ont. The mailing address is a mall in Mississauga, Ont.
The bank records also listed a phone number for the company, but when CBC News called the number, Douglas Finch answered and said he had never heard of RSG Ventures or Robert Solomon Gruger.
Finch said he had recently acquired the phone number as an executive line for his company, DraftCo, a draught beer monitoring service for bars and restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area.
“That’s a business number I just picked up,” he said. “I’ve only had the number for six weeks type thing.”
As for Robert Solomon Gruger, CBC News ran his name through a number of databases — including bankruptcy, insolvency, and a lien search in Ontario — but no matches showed up.
India tells Canada to remove 41 of its 62 diplomats: official
Canada needs diplomats in India to help navigate the “extremely challenging” tensions between the two countries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday in response to demands that Ottawa repatriate dozens of its envoys.
India reportedly wants 41 of 62 Canadian diplomats out of the country by early next week — a striking, if largely anticipated, deepening of the rift that erupted last month following Trudeau’s explosive allegations in the House of Commons.
The prime minister bluntly spoke of “credible” intelligence linking the Indian government to the shooting death in June of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh leader India has long assailed as a terrorist.
The demand, first reported by the Financial Times, comes less than two weeks after the Indian government first called on Canada to establish “parity in strength and rank equivalence in our diplomatic presence.”
Canada has a much larger diplomatic corps in India, owing in part to the fact it’s a country of 1.4 billion people, compared to 40 million in Canada — about 1.3 million of whom are of Indian origin.
Trudeau would not confirm the reports Tuesday, nor did he sound inclined to acquiesce to India’s request.
“Obviously, we’re going through an extremely challenging time with India right now,” Trudeau said on his way to a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.
“That’s why it’s so important for us to have diplomats on the ground, working with the Indian government, there to support Canadians and Canadian families.”
Canada, he continued, is “taking this extremely seriously, but we’re going to continue to engage responsibly and constructively with the government of India.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said largely the same thing.
“In moments of tension, because indeed there are tensions between both our governments, more than ever it’s important that diplomats be on the ground,” Joly said.
“That’s why we believe in the importance of having a strong diplomatic footprint in India. That being said, we are in ongoing conversations with the Indian government.”
During Tuesday’s daily briefing at the State Department, deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel was at pains to avoid exacerbating tensions any further.
“We are — and continue to be — deeply concerned about the allegations referenced by Prime Minister Trudeau and we remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners,” Patel said, a message the U.S. has had on repeat for weeks.
“It’s critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice. We also have … publicly and privately urged the Indian government to co-operate in the Canadian investigation and co-operate in those efforts.”
Patel also demurred on the potential impact of an escalating tit-for-tat exchange of diplomatic staff on the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, a key element of U.S. efforts to mitigate China’s growing geopolitical influence.
“I certainly don’t want to get into hypotheticals,” he said. “As it relates to our Indo-Pacific strategy and the focus that we continue to place on the region, that effort and that line of work is going to continue.”
David Cohen, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, has already confirmed that the allegations were buttressed in part on intelligence gathered by a key ally from the Five Eyes security alliance, which includes the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, along with Canada.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s external affairs minister, confirmed last week that the subject came up in his meetings in Washington, D.C., with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser.
Trudeau’s allegation “was not consistent with our policy,” Jaishankar told a panel discussion Friday hosted by the Hudson Institute.
“If his government had anything relevant and specific they would like us to look into, we were open to looking at it. That’s where that conversation is at this point of time.”
Jaishankar went on to note that the issue of Sikh separatists living in Canada had long been “an issue of great friction,” notably after the 1985 bombing of Air India flight 182, the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history.
“In the last few years, it has come back very much into play, because of what we consider to be a very permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremists, people who openly advocate violence,” Jaishankar said.
“They have been given operating space in Canada because of the compulsions of Canadian politics.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2023.
With files from Mickey Djuric in Ottawa.
In the news today: Regimental funeral today for B.C. Mountie, NDP victory in Manitoba – National Post
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All Flesh Redux
Director’s Notes, Stacey Christodoulou
MONTREAL October, 2023 – Combining polyphonic singing, dance, and theatre, All Flesh REDUX is a poetic journey through time and space. Part sing-a-long, Dadaist performance piece as well as a love letter to our planet, the work enfolds the public in an intimate theatre-in-the-round setting where humour, music, storytelling and movement reign. Bringing together the worlds of medieval composers Guillaume de Machaut, Hildegard von Bingen and modern composer John Cage, the company’s creation contemplates the unknowable past and the unimaginable future, and asks what acts of faith are possible in an uncertain world. October 13-22, seating is limited.
Director Stacey Christodoulou: “We could never imagine that the themes we spoke about in 2019 would become reality. In a certain way the show was prophetic. However, I believe that the message of creating beauty as a form of resistance is even more important now. The weaving of medieval song, contemporary dance and text continues our company’s interdisciplinary approach and reminds us that throughout history people have responded to turmoil with innovation and art.”
With: ENSEMBLE ALKEMIA (Jean-François Daignault, Dorothéa Ventura and Leah Weitzner), Stéphanie Fromentin, Erin Lindsay, Vanessa Schmit-Craan, Lael Stellick
Musical direction by Jean-François Daignault; scenograpy by Amy Keith; sound by Debbie Doe; costumes by Cathia Pagotto; lighting by David Perreault Ninacs and technical stage coordination by Birdie Gregor.
All Flesh REDUX
Studio Jean Valcourt du Conservatoire
4750, avenue Henri-Julien
Dates: Friday, Oct., 13, Saturday, Oct. 14 at 8pm; Sunday Oct. 14 at 3pm
Wednesday, October 18-Saturday, Oct. 21 at 8pm; Sunday, Oct. 22 at 3pm
Tickets/514 873-4032: $20, Students/Seniors: $15
Seating is limited
About THE OTHER THEATRE
Formed in 1991 by Artistic Director Stacey Christodoulou, The Other Theatre is devoted to contemporary creation. Working bilingually, their award-wining work has included adaptations, installations, theatre texts, and collectively written material performed in numerous venues in Montreal and abroad, including theatres, galleries, as well as a moving elevator.
Drawing inspiration from art forms other than theatre – dance, cinema, science, architecture, and the visual arts – the company presents evocative performances, grounded by thought-provoking texts. From a creole Macbeth, to sci-fi with polyphonic singing, to the horror of H.P. Lovecraft, their original creations are thrilling and visually striking. They have also presented the work of International and Canadian writers, giving them their French-language premieres in Quebec. Exploring the large existential issues of the time, The Other Theatre aims to move audiences to greater emotional connection and reflection, bridging communities and languages to create a hybrid theatre that is reflective of the cultural richness of Montreal. They value and foster artistic exchange, both locally and internationally and share their artistic process in Canada, the US, Europe and Mexico, through mentorships, workshops and cultural mediation in local communities and schools.
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