Doubts cast on Canadian citizenship of Mulroney’s billionaire friend

Ex-PM sat on board of Wafic Said’s company based in tax haven of Bermuda from 2004 to 2012

By Frédéric Zalac, Francis Plourde,

On a cool spring day in 2015, Antigonish, N.S., welcomed two unusual guests: a former prime minister who once called the university town home, and a Syrian-British billionaire known for his sizable donations to higher-learning institutions but also for his role in one of the U.K.’s biggest corruption scandals.

The billionaire, globe-trotting Wafic Said was there to receive an honorary doctorate at St. Francis Xavier University, and the politician, Brian Mulroney, was back at his alma mater as Said’s “good friend.”

What wasn’t known at the time, however, was the true extent of the relationship between the two men.

A joint investigation by Radio-Canada and the Toronto Star, using documents from the Paradise Papers and elsewhere, has found that from 2004 to 2012, Mulroney sat on the board of Said’s private holding company based in the tax haven of Bermuda, at the same time as media reports emerged of large-scale corruption in an arms deal that Said helped broker.

A lawyer for Mulroney said the former PM is “proud to have served” on the board of Said’s company and considers the billionaire to be “an outstanding man, a highly successful investor and a leading philanthropist.”

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