UPAC sends investigators to Panama to confirm Arthur Porter's death

Quebec's anti-corruption police unit is sending two investigators to Panama to confirm Arthur Porter is actually dead, saying it has received "no official confirmation" from local authorities.

Quebec police unit hasn't received 'evidence required to validate the authenticity of a body'

Arthur Porter was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and died Tuesday in Panama, according to his family. (CBC)

Quebec's anti-corruption unit is sending two investigators to Panama to confirm the death of Arthur Porter.

"We have received no official confirmation of the death of Arthur Porter from Panamanian authorities," UPAC said in a statement Thursday.

"We have also not received the evidence required to validate the authenticity of a body."

Earlier Thursday, the prosecutor handling the multi-million dollar fraud case involving the former McGill University Health Centre CEO said she wants Quebec police to verify that he is actually dead.

Pamela Porter told CBC Wednesday her 59-year-old husband died of cancer the day before in Panama, where he was in jail fighting extradition to Canada to face fraud charges.

Dr. Karol Sikora, a U.K. cancer specialist and longtime friend of Arthur Porter, also told CBC that Porter died of metastatic lung cancer at 11 p.m. local time Tuesday. 

Police allege Porter received $11.25 million in secret commissions for rigging the contract to build the new McGill University Health Centre superhospital in SNC-Lavalin's favour.

Marie-Hélene Giroux, the prosecutor in charge of the case against Porter and seven others accused of fraud, said she wants to see official reports establishing Porter's death, including an autopsy report with supporting DNA and biometric information.

Giroux told Radio-Canada Thursday she's asked provincial police to do what's necessary to verify Porter's death, including travelling to Panama if required.

In an email to Radio-Canada, a spokesperson for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs would only say the department is aware of the death of a Canadian citizen in Panama and that consular officials are in contact with local authorities to gather more information.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who founded a medical-related company with Porter in 2010 before his return to politics, was asked Thursday about the reports of the death.

"My only comment...is this is a sad ending for a very sad story," he told a news conference in Roberval, Que.

Family issues statement

Porter, a medical doctor and cancer specialist, had been diagnosed with the disease in January of 2013. After he was arrested on an international warrant in Panama City in May 2013, he treated himself with experimental drugs while in La Joya prison and fighting extradition to Canada.

In recent weeks, he was moved to Santo Tomas Oncology Hospital for diagnostic work. 

On Thursday, Pamela Porter emailed a statement to CBC she said was written by Porter's daughters:

"Whilst the media report the news of Arthur's death with stories of alleged crime and corruption our family mourns the loss of a dearly loved husband, father and friend.

As they focus on his business and political dealings we remember a man of incomparable intellect, wit, charm and integrity whose focus was always on providing the best care he could for his patients. He achieved more in his 59 years than most even dream to accomplish in a lifetime.

We would like to thank those who have supported us, and continue to do so, during this difficult time."

with files from The Canadian Press


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