Émile Benamor, owner of the burnt-out building in Old Montreal, was considered the suspect in an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) into a fraud network targeting grandparents, the federal police have just revealed.

Mr. Benamor has never been criminally charged. The attorney, however, pleaded guilty to a tax evasion charge in the same case: he failed to report transfers of nearly $500,000 to his personal account from a “fraudulent scheme.”

These procedures were launched after the RCMP transmitted its investigation file to the federal tax authorities, Corporal Tasha Adams confirmed to La Presse. “The suspect we were investigating allegedly pleaded to tax evasion charges from the Canada Revenue Agency,” she said. This is what I have in the conclusion of the RCMP file. She then confirmed that the suspect in question was Mr. Benamor.

Reached by telephone, Émile Benamor’s lawyer pleaded that his client had “no connection with the origin of the funds”. “It was found in court and in writing by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, so I have difficulty explaining why the RCMP is making such a statement at this time,” said Me Alexandre Bergevin.

The RCMP investigation dates back to 2012 and was titled “Project CHALK.” “It was a grandson scam,” Corporal Adams said in a phone interview. At the time, we had a COLT team [Operational Center for the Fight against Telemarketing]. »

The police officer could not indicate whether the RCMP had recommended that the federal Crown file criminal charges.

“The CRA evidence does not demonstrate that when cashing the drafts, Mr. Benamor was aware that the source of the funds was from such a scheme,” the statement said. In the joint summary of the facts filed in court, the prosecution and the defense indicate that “none of the issuers of the bills is a client of Me Benamor’s legal practice, nor one of his tenants or even a creditor of one of his rental properties”.

Me Benamor has been in the news since March 16, when one of his buildings in Old Montreal burned down. Seven people were killed in the blaze of rare violence. Several accommodations were rented there illegally on the Airbnb platform.

The 60-year-old lawyer is at the head of a housing stock estimated at 27 million by the City of Montreal.

Families of victims have raised the possibility that the damaged building may have contained rooms without windows, which would have made their evacuation difficult once the fire broke out.

On Friday, the father of a young man who died in the fire filed a 22 million class action claim against Émile Benamor and Tarik Hassan, the tenant of some apartments in the building.

Mr. Benamor “failed and neglected his duty to ensure that all rental accommodations in the building complied with rules and regulations holding minimum standards of health and safety,” claims Randy Sears, Sr. by Nathan Sears. Mr. Benamor and Mr. Hassan “demonstrated that they were more concerned with generating profits for themselves rather than looking after the safety and health” of the people residing there, the document continues.