Canada mob haven - experts
Halifax Daily News
A lack of laws to combat the Mafia and money laundering has
made Canada a ``free market'' for organized crime groups from around
the world, experts told a symposium yesterday.
At least 10 different Mafia organizations with roots from Russia to
Colombia have branches in Canada, helping forge unprecedented
international ties between gangsters, Italian author Antonio Nicaso
"Canada, in short, is a free market for the criminal underworld,''
said Nicaso, who has written several books on the Mafia and now
lives in Toronto.
"For criminals, Canada is a fool's paradise and we are the
fools.'' Nicaso said the mob likes Canada because the country lacks laws
that force banks to report suspicious money transactions and has no
anti-Mafia legislation, unlike the United States, Italy, Hong Kong and other countries.
Federal regulations require financial institutions and brokerage
firms to keep records of cash deposits of $10,000 or more, but don't
require the recording of large cheques, money orders or money wired
Canadian banks have voluntarily agreed to track large wire
transfers and cheques.
As well, Canada's relatively liberal immigration rules allow for
the ``free flow'' of criminals across its borders, added Nicaso.
The symposium on international organized crime follows the arrest
in Toronto this week of Italian immigrant Salvatore Ferraro, who the
RCMP say is one of the six most powerful Mafia leaders in the world.
Italian police have a 300-page indictment against Ferraro, who
allegedly ran a Sicilian mob family from his suburban home. He was
ordered deported earlier this week.
"There's no accident he chose Canada to live in,'' said Nicaso.
"It took them (police) three years to find him here.''
Canada is home to branches of two of the five biggest Italian Mafia
groups, two of the five Colombian drug cartels, Oriental gangs like
the Triad, Russian Mafia, Jamaican drug "posses'' and assorted
biker gangs, Nicaso said.
Links partly cemented in Canada led to summit meetings in recent
years between Italian, Russian, Chinese and Colombian mobsters, he
The Russian mob is expanding rapidly here, engaging in activities
like arms and alcohol smuggling from the United States, said Rod
Stamler, a former assistant commissioner of the RCMP.
Mario Possamai, a forensic accounting investigator and author of a
book on money laundering, said there are signs that Canada has
become a "clearing house'' for organized crime profits.
Ottawa needs legislation requiring banks to report large
transactions, he said.
Other speakers also urged that Canada pass conspiracy-type laws
that would essentially make it a crime to take part in criminal
groups like the Mafia.
"Organized crime presents a fundamental threat to freedom and
democracy,'' said Italian anti-Mafia judge Nicola Gratteri.
"The greater the financial power of organized crime, the greater
will be its influence in the worlds of business and politics.''
November 9, 1994.