Saturday 7 April 2012

Mexico adds Stephane Roy, Gary Peters, and Mahmoud Razwan to list of suspects in Gaddafi case

(N.B. The piece written below was taken off reports from the Mexican press, and appears to represent the current thinking within Mexico's Attorney General's office. Ms. Vanier's defense has yet to present all of its evidence. It has always been La politica's understanding that SNC-Lavalin was the sole source of revenue for Ms. Vanier's work related to Libya. No evidence has yet been presented to prove otherwise).

The list of suspects being considered by Mexico’s federal attorney general’s office in the alleged plot to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi – fallen Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s third son – out of North Africa to Mexico now includes the Canadian and former SNC-Lavalin executive Stephane Roy,  as well as Gary Peters and Mahmoud Razwan, both of whom are permanent residents of Canada.

As well, the Mexican authorities believe that funding from the Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin alone was not sufficient to finance the operation. They are looking at at least two other un-named financiers: one a Canadian, and another a Libyan. These financiers are seen as potential investors – a successful extraction was to have profited those who financially supported the endeavour.

At present the Mexican authorities have four people in custody: the Canadian Cynthia Vanier, accused of being the financial coordinator of the plot; José Luis Kennedy Prieto, a Mexican national accused of document forgery; the Dane Pierre Christian Flensborg; and the Mexican Gabriela Dávila Huerta (also known as Gabby de Cueto).  Flensborg and Dávila Huerta were allegedly involved in organizing transportation.

The Mexican Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez, who provided the aircraft for Ms. Vanier through his leasing company in Toluca, west of Mexico City, is being detained on fraud charges. Mr. Esquino Núñez previously served prison time in the United States and was extradited back to Mexico upon his release. He is considered a key witness in the case.

Stephane Roy was Cynthia Vanier’s contact at SNC-Lavalin, which had close ties to the Muammar Gaddafi regime, and particularly with Saadi Gaddafi. Mr. Roy paid Ms. Vanier’s consulting firm $100,000 for her fact-finding trip to Libya in July, 2011. Mr. Roy was with Gabriela Davila Huerta in Mexico City when she was arrested on November 11th at the St. Regis hotel – the day after Cynthia Vanier was arrested, also in Mexico City.

New Zealand-born Gary Peters, Saadi Gaddafi’s body guard, has been resident in Canada since 2002. He claims to have moved Saadi Gaddafi to the border with Niger in early September, 2011.  The younger Gaddafi then crossed into Niger, where he remains to this day.

 Saadi Gaddafi is now in Niger

Mahmoud Razwan, of the Canadian Libyan friendship Association, is an insurance broker in Windsor, Ontario. He was briefly appointed caretaker of the Libyan embassy on Ottawa after the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, and accompanied Ms. Vanier on her trip to Libya.

It should be noted that though the Mexican authorities have named these individuals as suspects, the Mexicans do not appear yet to have enough evidence to present an extradition request to the Canadian authorities.

The Mexican authorities believe that Ms. Vanier’s July trip was actually an extraction attempt, and that a second was being planned. If so, then the second attempt would have been from Niger. This would have been a difficult operation, given that Mr. Gaddafi was under house arrest and wanted by Interpol at the time. Mr. Peters, who apparently had a falling out with Ms. Vanier and SNC-Lavalin after the July trip, is only implicated in the first alleged attempt.

The Mexicans are holding to their theory that Saadi Gaddafi was to be relocated to a coastal resort in Nayarit, Mexico, north of Puerto Vallarta, though they no longer believe that Ms. Vanier’s property in La Cruz was to be a safe house. They also believe that a 2,000,000 peso ($154,000) down payment on a condominium in the swanky St. Regis apartment hotel complex, on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, was for Mr. Gaddafi.

The Mexican attorney general’s office has pushed the plot back to around the time of the Arab spring in 2011 – before Ms. Vanier is known to have begun her relationship with SNC-Lavalin.  Ms. Vanier signed her contract with SNC-Lavalin at the end of June, 2011. Her first contact with Mr. Razwan is believed to have been in April, 2011.

Also named as suspects by the Mexican authorities are Gregory Gillispie, Michael Boffo, and Loren Berenda. Mr. Gillispie and Mr. Boffo were business partners, and helped broker the aircraft and possibly personnel out of Mexico for Ms. Vanier via two companies: Veritas Worldwide Security, which offered training to military and security personnel; and GG Global Holdings, which was used exclusively for brokering and leasing aircraft.

It was Mr. Berenda, also known as “LR”, who was first approached by Cynthia Vanier. Mr. Berenda and Mr. Boffo are both former employees of private military contractor DynCorp.

La politica has been in touch with Mr. Gillispie and Mr. Boffo. The two men strenuously assert their innocence.

“Calderon took a personal interest in this case as soon as it broke and he is trying to capitalize on it to the max,” Mr. Gillispie told La politica in an email exchange. “My guess is that as soon as the elections go in July and Calderon is on his way out then suddenly it'll be decided that the evidence isn't enough to hold them anymore and they'll quietly be released.”

Mr. Boffo, who now works for the security consultancy Pax Mondial in Afghanistan, was even blunter in his assessment –  

“I do not know anything about this,” he told La politica. "GG Global simply leased Vanier Consulting a plane.”

The Mexican authorities are also looking at Belend Salih Alqassab, a resident of the United States, and Roger Lanoue, an American of Haitian origin who has served in the US Navy. These two men were part of a security detail that included the Romanian Cristenelm Giurgea Nelu and Barrie Rice, a former member of Special Forces in New Zealand. According to flight logs, Mr. Giurgea Nelu and Mr. Rice joined Ms. Vanier’s group when it arrived in Pristina, Kosovo, en route to North Africa.

Mr. Rice accompanied Ms. Vanier on a trip to Mexico City in late September, 2011. The Mexican attorney General’s office says this was to plan for a second attempt. However, Mr. Gillispie, who along with Mr. Flensborg and Ms. Davila Huerta met with Ms. Vanier and Mr. Rice in Mexico City at that around time, has asserted that the purpose of the trip and meeting was to discuss a dispute over payment for aircraft.

The security detail for the Libya trip was led by Mr. Peters and also included Loren Berenda. At $1,000 to $1,500 a day for six people, the detail would come in at $6,000- $9,000. For a 10 day trip, security personal alone would then cost $60,000 - $90,000.

Given that planes were many hundreds of thousands of dollars more – La politica believes that Vanier Consulting paid at least $400,000 in aircraft – and Vanier Consulting only successfully invoiced SNC-Lavalin $100,000, the possibility of secondary or “shadow” sponsors looms large.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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  1. RCMP are apparently conducting a seizure at SNC-Lavalin headquarters in Montreal.

    Read more:

  2. Why did the Mexican authorities not wait until Saadi Ghadhafi was in Mexico, in his 'safe house', before undergoing any arrests. If they be given all the information about the asserted to be smuggling to come, forged documents and such, why not then watch the supposed people involved to see what or whomever further comes about.
    The actions of the Mexican authorities raise a question, rather than answer a question. What was the hurry?
    --and the Canadian authorities, you think that any projects that SNC-Lavalin undertake would not at first to be examined closely? Especially with all that money flowing? I have hard time not believing someone in the Canadian authority did not know. Unless, like Cynthia Vanier, they be deceived? It becoming so that one does not know the good guys from the bad guys.