From left: Ray Kanho, Giuseppe Torre, Omar Riahi and Rony Bardales, all arrested in Project ColisÃ©e. Kanho and Torre had ties to the Montreal Mafia
Ray Kanho was the ultimate middleman.
Fluent in at least five languages, including Arabic, Creole and Italian, he could move between inner circles, helped cross bridges between people and prospered from it.
Unfortunately for Kanho, the people he helped were tied to the Montreal Mafia and various street gang members. And Monday afternoon he watched the small fortune he amassed while drug trafficking with both groups be confiscated by the federal government.
The $4 million worth of confiscations were part of a sentence Kanho received Monday at the Montreal courthouse for his activities, uncovered during Project ColisÃ©e, an investigation into the Montreal Mafia.
As part of a negotiated settlement that took months to complete, Kanho lost his home in Lavalâ€™s Duvernay district, a 10-unit apartment building in Montreal and another house in Laval listed under the name of two of his relatives. He also conceded that more than $2.8 million the RCMP secretly removed from his fatherâ€™s home in Laval, just weeks before he was arrested in Nov. 2006, was the proceeds of crime.
â€œListen to me. They took everything. I have nothing left,â€ Kanho was recorded telling an accomplice in 2006 after realizing his money was gone.
He incorrectly assumed his sisterâ€™s boyfriend stole the money and is believed to have assaulted the man, or had someone else assault him, before the Montreal police arrested Kanho as a precaution and informed him the RCMP took his money.
Besides the confiscations, Quebec Court Judge Jean Pierre Bonin sentenced Kanho to a 14-year prison term. With time served factored in he has a little more than eight years left to serve and is required to serve at least have of that before he is eligible for parole.
Kanho admitted to taking part in several conspiracies to smuggle cocaine into Canada, in particular with Giuseppe Torre, a man with ties to the Montreal Mafia also serving a 14-year sentence for crimes uncovered during ColisÃ©e.
Kanho also admitted to being the man who ultimately was behind the corruption of two customs agents, including Nancy Cedeno, the Canada Border Services Agency agent who was convicted last week of accepting bribes.
Besides giving up the $2.8 million and his real estate, Kanho agreed to let the federal government confiscate 72,000 shares he had in Investissement Mondi Inc., the investment arm of a St. LÃ©onard-based construction company.
According to a seizure order filed recently, Kanho is alleged to have used Constructions Mondi Inc. to launder his drug money. The company specializes in building single-family units and constructed several in Laval since 2000, including the Duvernay home confiscated on Monday.
According to an affidavit filed with the seizure order, Kanho invested more than $180,000 total with the company. After purchasing shares in the company Kanho began receiving $1,000 a week from Constructions Mondi and claimed it was his salary on tax returns. However, while he was investigated in Project ColisÃ©e, Kanho did nothing that resembled work for the construction company.
On April 13, 2007, the RCMP arrested Dominic Zavaglia, the president of Constructions Mondi. He gave investigators a videotaped statement during which he tried to explain why Kanho was paid $1,000 a week for doing nothing. Zavaglia, who has not been charged with a crime, told investigators that the money was paid to Kanho as a salary to save on tax deductions. But the affidavit, which was prepared after Zavaglia was questioned, the RCMP alleged Kanhoâ€™s money was given to Investissement Mondi â€œas a strategy to launder money.â€
By agreeing to the confiscation of his remaining shares Monday, Kanho admitted they were bought with dirty money.