In late October, two accused fraudsters began undergoing their trial in the Ontario Superior Court over multiple charges, including cheating Muslim home owners out of more than $2 million.
Omar Kalair and Imam Yusuf Panchbhaya have also been accused of laundering the proceeds of the crime allegedly made through Kalair’s company United Muslim Financial (UMF), which offered “Shariah-compliant” mortgages from 2004 to 2011.
These loans adhere to Islamic precepts by not offering any interest. In lieu of this, UMF required home owners to pay extra fees deemed as “profit”, CBC News reported.
Crown-appointed prosecutor Damien Frost stated that the co-accused worked together to use the money accumulated by UMF in the illegal purchase of millions of dollars in gold and silver. This happened just a few weeks before the receiver, accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP Canada, took control of the firm in October 2011.
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Crown witness Michael Durst, who is a retired Scotiabank manager, testified that Kalair approached him on August 30, 2011 to buy around a million dollars’ worth of gold bars.
Panchbhaya returned the silver after UMF got slapped with a court order, but Frost maintained that almost $2 million of gold bullion “disappeared and has never been recovered.”
Frost said that later in the trial, an expert witness in money laundering will outline how the use of precious metals makes pilfered money “almost impossible to trace, locate and recover.”
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