PI Testifies at Jaffer Hearing

May 13, 2010 Updated: May 13, 2010

PARLIAMENT HILL, Ottawa—He says he is a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party and will stay that way as long as they keep taking his money.

Derrick Snowdy, the private investigator who alerted the Prime Minister’s Office to the questionable conduct of former Minister Helena Guergis, testified before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Snowdy stumbled across the alleged questionable dealings of Guergis and her husband, Rahim Jaffer, while investigating Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani.

Snowdy describes Gillani as a “serial fraudster,” a charge backed up by the Toronto Star whose investigative story on Gillani says he was under investigation by two major police departments and the federal taxman for fraud or tax evasion allegations.

Gillani, alleged Snowdy, was a perpetrator of “pump and dump” schemes, a type of stock fraud where a company’s stock is inflated through misleading positive statements and then dumped for a profit. Spam emails purporting to be stock tips are a common way fraudsters try to pump up stocks. When the stock is dumped, the value tanks and unwary investors lose their money.

Guergis was ejected from the Conservative Party last month because of unspecified “serious allegations” that appear to be connected to her husband’s ties to Gillani. Jaffer, a former MP and one-time chair of the Conservative caucus, is currently under investigation for illegal lobbying, some of which is alleged to have been conducted on behalf of Gillani.

Among the biggest surprises revealed during the hearing was Snowdy’s allegation that Liberal Party president Alfred Apps was the “getaway driver” for Gillani’s cons. Snowdy said Apps, who works as a lawyer for Fasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm, represented Gillani in a case that bankrupted one of his previous victims.

Contradicting this charge were documents presented at the hearing that say Apps and his firm turned down Gillani’s request for representation.

The statement from Apps’s firm said Gillani requested representation through Apps in 2006 but the firm turned him down and Apps returned the retainer cheque.

Not much of the hearing focused on the matter at hand, which was whether or not Jaffer has participated in unregistered lobbying, a situation Snowdy said he knew little about because his focus was on Gillani and his knowledge of Jaffer’s dealings was incidental to that investigation.

Another surprise was that Snowdy had met with Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton four times to discuss the Gilani-Jaffer-Guergis affair. Although Snowdy met Hamilton as recently as this week, the private investigator says the two did not discuss his upcoming testimony before the committee.