Lebanese-Canadian man charged with illegal weapons business

BBC News

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A Lebanese-Canadian man has spoken out after a court accused him of trying to operate an illegal weapons business using a bogus company in Lebanon.

The Crown argues that various shells bound for Syria in 2015 were then smuggled into ISIS hands.

Shaban says the shells have not been traced.

But, as a former member of Canada’s legislature, Mr Shaban believes he knows who is responsible.

Mr Shaban, who is now an administrator at a Toronto think tank, is named in the indictment as Shaloun Shaban Associates, which is an offshore company registered in Cyprus.

It says Mr Shaban acted as manager of the company while it used “the spoils of war” to operate illegal weapons.

“There are two separate companies – I have a company that I have tried to be successful in the Middle East. My company employs many people and provides them with decent incomes and I believe the company’s existence is well respected,” he said.

“The other is a shell company, a brand new company, established with very little support from me, of my own initiative.

“It is absolutely not my intention to participate in the illegal activities of this company, which is currently under a restraining order,” he added.

The Crown alleges that, by owning the two companies, Mr Shaban knew they were smuggling the shells to Syria.

Mr Shaban denies being a drug trafficker.

“I have no drug connection, I have never been convicted of a crime related to drugs,” he said.

“My professional and social lives in Canada and Lebanon have been entirely open and transparent. This same transparency is all over my business activities.”

Mr Shaban said he had no idea why the shells, which he alleges are just as effective as munitions from North Korea and Russia, were being shipped to Syria in 2015.

“It may be the explanation why the shells made their way from Canada to Syria via Turkey and Cyprus,” he added.

“However, it is a different matter whether Syria was purchasing ammunition from Canada or from anywhere else in the world, and why or why not, I do not know.”

Mr Shaban is not only the man named in the indictment – he is also the company’s legal representative.

“I didn’t open the company until 10 months before it was closed by the Bank of Cyprus, on several grounds,” he said.

“One of the reasons the company was closed by the Bank of Cyprus was that I had signed a mortgage on an apartment as a share holder.

“As a consequence of this breach of corporate law I was issued a total of two suspension notices from my bank,” he added.

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