Alexander Legault and Ari Ben-Menashe
CBC News: Disclosure
the update GO
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, is seeking re-election.
an historic election in Zimbabwe later this week. President Robert Mugabe
-a controversial figure worldwide- is seeking re-election.
main opponent has been accused of trying to have him killed. At the
centre of that explosive charge are two shadowy Montreal businessmen
who we first told you about on Disclosure earlier this season.
in the spotlight are Ari Ben-Menashe, a one-time Isreali spy and arms
dealer, and his partner Alexander Legault. Last fall, Disclosure
revealed Legault is a U.S. fugitive, wanted in Florida, Texas and
Louisiana for fraud.
Ari Ben-Menashe (left) and Alexander Legault
showed that Legault and Ben-Menashe were busy brokering deals around
the world for commodities like grain and rice. But there were allegations
Damiron, a former employee, says customers would pay a deposit, but
the goods would never be shipped.
just a scam, basically," says Damiron. "[They] take the ten
percent and run."
Now a grainy
videotape has shown up. It was recently broadcast on Australian television,
causing an international storm of controversy.
a meeting secretly taped in Montreal last December by Ben-Menashe.
purports to show him being approached by Zimbabwe's opposition leader
to arrange the assassination of the country's president, Robert Mugabe.
later told CBC News that he was only playing along to expose the plot:
wanted to hire us straight forward to eliminate the president and help
them organize a coup d'etat in Zimbabwe against the president."
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he was framed.
man who's fingered for the plan, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
says he was framed. He says Ben-Menashe approached him, offering himself
and Legault as lobbyists, and then suggesting the assassination.
of course intended to divert people," says Tsvangirai of the video.
"To confuse people. But people aren't confused. They see through
this whole ploy. It's a conspiracy they've concocted."
But, the heavily edited tape is enough for President Mugabe. He's had
Tsvangirai charged with treason because of the tape. He faces life in
minister of Foreign Affairs has asked the RCMP to investigate the supposed
plot. But his department can hardly claim to know little about Ben-Menashe
or his dealings with controversial African regimes.
You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the documents linked
to below (they're in Adobe PDF file format). If you don't have
it installed on your computer, you can download it at www.adobe.com.
government documents obtained by Disclosure show the department
has a long and curious history with Ben-Menashe.
an Access to Information request, we received over 400 pages showing
Ben-Menashe was regularly de-briefed by Canadian intelligence officers,
plumbed about what he knew of the inner workings of the governments
he was involved with.
offer to set up a meeting between (then) Foreign Affairs Minister
Lloyd Axworthy and "Secretary One" of Burma:
The hand-written numbers at the side of the documents refer
to the exemption sections of the Access to Information Act under
which the documents were censored.
For more information about the exemptions, see the Act's official
are heavily censored, but what's left reveals that Ottawa has known
for years about Ben-Menashe's trips to Zimbabwe's capital and his association
with Robert Mugabe.
as they were using him a resource, Ben-Menashe was pitching Ottawa on
his clients -offering to arrange meetings between Canada and the regimes
a military leader in Burma -a country which Canada has shunned for its
human rights abuses; and a government minister in Sudan -a man Canada
has investigated for war crimes.
show Ottawa seriously considered both requests, taking them to the minister's
office for consideration before taking a pass.
is Foreign Affairs critic for the Alliance. "You have a company
who with highly questionable activities abroad," he says, "that
is working with the Department of Foreign Affairs, that has been asked
for the Department of Foreign Affairs for information and the relationship
is highly suspect and it just, quite frankly -it stinks."
Department of Foreign Affairs takes a pass on Ben-Menashe's offer
as Foreign Affairs was relying on Ben-Menashe to help build Canada's
intelligence files, trade officials in the same department were issuing
strong warnings he couldn't be trusted.
disputes from soured business deals were stacking up -from Hungary to
Zambia- prompting a senior trade commissioner to the Baltics to warn
that Ben-Menashe and Legault's company, Carlington Sales, had done:
offers to set up a meeting with Qutbi Al-Mahdi, then Sudanese
Minister for Foreign Intelligence:
serious damage to the commercial relationship between Canada and Estonia,
by what could only be termed unethical conduct."
And a warning
issued back in 1996:
any Canadian government official deal with extreme caution with Carlington."
no indication Canada passed that warning on to foreign companies inquiring
Trade Commissioner H. Jacob Kunzer's memo warning about Carlington
(the two are versions of the same document, but they have been
censored differently by DFAIT)
banker Raj Mahtani, burned in a multi-million dollar deal for maize,
says Canada let him down:
am totally disappointed and disillusioned," he says. "For
me, to be honest with you, I would not enter into any contract with
a British arbitration court ordered Carlington to pay $10-million on
the Zambian deal. But Carlington filed bankruptcy saying there's no
in the Zambian case is Neil Sampson.
most important thing we have to do is find the money," says the
lawyer in the Zambian case, Neil Sampson. "I would ask anybody
who knows anything, the affairs of Carlington Sales, of Alexander Legault
or Ari Ben-Menashe, to contact us and hopefully help us find the money."
Affairs officials refused to talk on camera about Ben-Menashe or Carlington.
Nor would they talk about why the intelligence officer who conducted
many of those briefings, retired in 1999 to work for Carlington.
company now bankrupt, Ben-Menashe and Legault are working under a different
name, Dickens and Madson. Their new lobbying firm is now at the centre
of the Zimbabwe assassination plot.
company has a long, storied and questionable history," says Alliance
MP Keith Martin. "Not only within Canada, but in other parts of
the world. I think it's up to the RCMP to investigate that because I'm
sure that the Canadian public has absolutely no interest whatsoever
in having companies in Canada engaging in destabilizing activity abroad."
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