Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal faces a handful of criminal charges after he allegedly failed to report receiving millions in personal loans to the ethics commissioner "in circumstances that constitute a criminal breach of trust," says the RCMP.
"It is further alleged that Mr. Grewal solicited loans for his own personal benefit in connection with the use of his public office, and that he administered his government-funded constituency office budget for his own personal benefit, under circumstances which constituted a criminal fraud or breach of trust," says a media release from the RCMP's national division.
Grewal faces four counts of breach of trust and one count of fraud over $5,000 under the Criminal Code — charges his lawyer says he denies.
"Mr. Grewal adamantly denies these allegations – as he has done steadfastly since 2018. He looks forward to having his day in court and clearing his name," said Nader Hasan in an email.
The RCMP says its investigation started back in September 2017, after it received proactive disclosures from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, known as FINTRAC, about "suspicious transactions" involving Grewal.
According to a recent filing from the Law Society of Ontario, the lawyer-turned politician allegedly defrauded six people — who were not his clients — out of $1 million, and one company he was representing out of $200,000, between 2016 and 2017.
The law society is looking into whether Grewal engaged in professional misconduct. According to an Aug. 10 filing on that matter, he is accused of "using false pretenses to obtain or borrow money from them ... and thereby engaged in conduct unbecoming."
The former Brampton East MP left the Liberal caucus in 2018, weeks after the Prime Minister's Office said he was receiving treatment from a health professional "related to a gambling problem that led him to incur significant personal debts." He then sat as an Independent and didn't run during in the 2019 election.
His resignation came after the Globe and Mail reported that Grewal had accumulated more than $1 million in debt.
Grewal addressed gambling problem in 2018
Grewal addressed the allegations in an 11-minute Facebook video in December 2018. In it, he said he got into the habit of frequenting the Hilton hotel in Gatineau, Que., which houses the Lac-Leamy Casino.
What started as recreational blackjack spiraled into a "significant problem," he said. Grewal said he accumulated gambling debts in high-stakes games over three years — debts he hid from his friends and family.
In the video, Grewal said he routinely borrowed from his loved ones and no money was obtained illegally.
He is expected to appear in court Oct. 6.
The Opposition Conservative said Grewal's charges are part of a trend for the Liberals.
"The Trudeau Liberals keep running into problems with the law," said Michael Barrett, the party's ethics critic. "It's a sustained pattern of law-breaking."
The NDP's critic made the same point.
"For the Liberals, these latest charges fit with a pattern Mr. Trudeau has created in his government, from [former finance minister Bill] Morneau to the WE scandal and going back to the prime minister's SNC scandal and illegal luxury Island vacation," said Charlie Angus.
"Today's charges should remind Trudeau that even though he does not like these rules, that doesn't put him or other Liberals above the law."