May 26, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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The Akurso trial was canceled, leaving millions missing

The Akurso trial was canceled, leaving millions missing

Last year, a corruption investigation into the corruption of founder Tony Akurso, his associate Francisco Bruno and two former tax officials was canceled due to an unreasonable delay in a Jordanian ruling. Thanks for the rare access to the evidence collected by the police, Press Today reveals how they continued to make millions of dollars in bribes disappear abroad, according to researchers.

Posted at 5:00 p.m.

By Vincent Lauro

By Vincent Lauro

All this happened because of pornography. Nothing more, Antonio hit Girardi.

It’s January 21, 2010 in Bern, Switzerland. His house was searched. Canadian media reported that he was the target of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigation called Project Coach, which came from information received as part of another criminal investigation into the Montreal Mafia. Reports Girardi, his colleague Adriano Forgiule and their friend, construction founder Francisco Bruno, are suspected of having bank accounts in Switzerland and that they were involved in large-scale tax evasion schemes related to the construction giant Tony Acurso’s businesses.

Swiss justice freezes accounts, launches probe into money laundering Mr. Girardi went to Bern to persuade the Swiss to cancel his funds because Canadian research was based on wind, according to him.

Photo by Robert Skinner, Law Press Archives

Antonio Girardi, January 2021

“They researched 19 years of my life. I have been accused of receiving and keeping “inappropriate” mail. To be clear, I received pornographic emails in my mailbox, ”explained Mr. Girardi, the Swiss federal prosecutor in his investigation report.

He asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture and that his confession had been obtained through torture.

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He has an account with a few hundred thousand dollars in Switzerland, which may seem odd to a Canadian tax official, but he says the money does not really belong to him. To help protect himself from creditors who were destroying him in Canada, he only agreed to put the money of his founding friend Francisco Bruno in his name.

“The funds did not belong to me, I only served Mr. Bruno,” he said, still according to the minutes. “I never got paid for this” and “I never violated the obligations arising from my employment,” he said.

According to Furgiuele, the problem of “racism”

Francisco Bruno and Adriano Furgio also went to Bern and argued their case and persuaded the Swiss to cancel their funds.

Allegedly, Adriano Ferguson was wrongly fired from his job at CRA. He said he was a victim of racism.

“I am of Italian descent and automatically listed as a mafioso. Overall, there is a hidden problem of racism in Quebec,” he argued, according to Swiss Minutes. Mentioned.

Photo by Marco Campanozi, Archives the Press

Adriano Forgiule at the Montreal Courthouse in January 2018

Francisco Bruno provided the same version. He told Swiss prosecutors that his former colleagues in Canada had cheated him and that he was suffering from debt. To protect his company funds, he hid them first in the Bahamas (tax haven) and then in Switzerland (one of the most famous countries for banking privacy). Since he did not want his wife and children to be involved in the maneuver, he asked Girardi and Forgiale to keep their names in the accounts so that they could have reliable guarantors in case anything went wrong. However, he said that all the money was his and that he had earned it legally with the sweat of his eyebrows.

Photo by Ivanoh Demers, Law Press Archives

Francisco Bruno, after visiting the RCMP offices in Montreal in the summer of 2012

“I’m looking for a way to put some profits in a safe place that lenders can not seize,” he said, according to the minutes. The money was divided into three parts and some of it was sent to the personal accounts of Girardi and Forgiule, although the funds actually belonged to Bruno, according to his version. He felt he was getting “extra protection against tax audits.”

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The Swiss authorities trusted themselves. There is no evidence that the three money came through crime. Accounts frozen. Francisco Bruno was able to recover $ 1.9 million. Girardi and Forgi were each able to recover about $ 740,000. Soon the money was gone without a trace.

“Favorable tax treatment”

Photo Getty Images

In return, Antonio Girardi, Francisco Bruno and Adriano Furgio, suspected of being involved in large-scale tax evasion schemes, traveled to Bern to persuade the Swiss to freeze their funds.

Swiss minutes were analyzed from the evidence to be submitted to the court during the corruption trial of Girardi, Furgiuele, Bruno and Accurso. The trial began in Montreal a year ago, but collapsed before the court could hear the case on merits.

The defense sought to disclose additional evidence of the 802 boxes and the prosecution realized that they could not be made available in a timely manner in accordance with the timeframe prescribed by the Supreme Court Jordan decision, which required a reasonable hearing. . On July 8, the Canadian Public Prosecution Service threw a towel and called for a halt to the legal process.

Thanks for the actions of the lawyers Press In court, we were able to obtain a copy of the evidence collected by the RCMP in this case. The police allegations could not be tested in court, and the dismissal of the trial meant that all the accused were still acquitted.

But according to police, the money hidden in Switzerland did not come from legal activities. These are bribes paid by construction businessman Tony Acurso between 2005 and 2008 to attract the attention of tax authorities.

“Circumstantial evidence confirms Akurso and the companies it controls […] Benefit from preferential tax protection or treatment, “wrote Crown Prosecutor Franకోois Blanchett, explaining the prosecution’s theory.

Photo by Robert Skinner, Law Press Archives

Tony Acurso

Francisco Bruno himself has confirmed that he has made several deals with Tony Acurso and has known him for a long time. He was also close to tax auditors Adriano Furiguille, his cousin and his close friend Tony Girardi. According to police, Bruno helped Akurso curry with the officers.

Mr. Girardi and Mr. Furgiuele for tax purposes. Official records seen by police indicate that Accurso has been assigned for years to audit businesses. As part of their work as a witness, Mr. Accurso also explained that he saw them in the offices of the companies. Girardi’s wife and Farziule’s friend, who also worked as an auditor, have also been assigned to suspicious company files for some time.

Tony Acurso’s group of companies was doing big business at the time: in a few years, its turnover reached half a billion dollars.

“Given the importance of the tax amounts for the companies in question, it is clear that Accurso has a significant advantage in being able to benefit from the” kind attention “of the auditors from the Canadian Revenue Agency.”E Blanchett.

Duplicate invoices

Millions of dollars paid by Tony Acurso to Bruno, Girardi and Furgio were taken directly from his companies’ accounts, according to the RCMP, who found false invoices for fraudulent checks he had signed and intended to cover up real use. Funding.

“In doing so he allowed himself to appropriately take fraudulent money from his companies personally, especially to make corrupt payments to Furgiuele, Girardi and their accomplice Bruno,” the Crown prosecutor explained.

No one in his business oversees the use of contractor funds. “He has the power to conclude contracts and pay the people he owes.” This is his company, he has the power, he has the power, and then it’s his money, ”said Frank Minicuchi, a former right-winger of Tony Acurso, testifying at the preliminary investigation.

For everything Mr. Akurso did at his expense, we left him in the sense that we did not ask a thousand and one questions […] No one in the company intervened.

Frank Minicuchi, former right-hand man of Tony Acurso, during the preliminary trial

According to the RCMP Funds Analysis, Mr. Martin Tremble, a fund manager affiliated with Geneva Private Bank Ferrier Lullin, provided services. The money paid by Accurso was first placed in the Bahamas.

Photo provided by Radio-Canada

Martin Tremble, fund manager affiliated with Geneva Private Bank Ferrier Lullin in the 2000s

Mr Bruno himself confirmed in an interview with Swiss prosecutors that Nathalie Racine, an adviser to the Royal Bank of Canada, had referred her to Martin Tremblay and that she had diverted many of her clients’ Canadians to a financial adviser in the Bahamas.Me Resin did not respond to requests for comment from Press)

Photo by Ivanoh Demers, Law Press Archives

Offices of Fund Manager Martin Tremble in Nassau, Bahamas

In 2006, American authorities arrested Martin Trembley and sentenced him to 48 months in prison for illegally transferring funds through his company. Bruno also said. Really his. He finally transferred everything to the Swiss bank accounts in his name, with MM names. Girardi and Forgiule.

Some of the money went through a Panama-registered shell company and a bank account in Singapore (both tax havens). In 2009, Switzerland suspended these funds until the three men traveled to Bern to explain their origins. When the funds were released they disappeared.

“The RCMP has lost track of dubious funding,” the Crown Prosecutor concluded in a statement.

The indictments remain. Tony Acurso, Francisco Bruno, Antonio Girardi and Adriano Furgio faced a series of charges between 2012 and 2018, including violating a government official’s trust, forgery, fraud and conspiracy. They were sentenced to many years in prison.

Trial’s abortion, last July, definitely eliminated this risk.