Former prime minister Brian Mulroney received $300,000 from a secret Swiss bank account after he left office because he was strapped for cash, German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber has told The Fifth Estate.
An investigation by The Fifth Estate has revealed new details of the money trail between Mulroney and Schreiber, raising questions about whether the former prime minister misled Canadians about their relationship.
Mulroney received $300,000 from a secret Swiss bank account controlled by Schreiber, the German-Canadian businessman told The Fifth Estate in his first sit-down interview.
The payments, received from Schreiber in 1993 and 1994, came from a bank account in Zurich with the code name "Britan," Schreiber said.
"There were five hundred thousand sitting, and from there he got 300," Schreiber told The Fifth Estate's Linden MacIntyre.
There is no evidence Mulroney knew where the money was coming from.
Schreiber was the focus of the so-called "Airbus affair," in which millions of dollars in secret commissions were paid in respect to the sale of the jets to Air Canada.
In 1995, the RCMP accused Mulroney of accepting kickbacks from Schreiber while Mulroney was in office for the purchase of a large order of Airbus jets.
Mulroney sued for libel, and under oath, denied any dealings with Schreiber.
Mulroney received a government apology and a $2-million settlement.
The Fifth Estate has learned the Britan account was activated a month after Mulroney stepped down as prime minister. The account, numbered 46341.5, received funds from another coded account owned by Schreiber called "Frankfurt."
That money, in turn, came from a Liechtenstein company, called IAL or International Aircraft Leasing. IAL held the proceeds of secret commission money from Airbus Industries, and received funds from German arms manufacturer Thyssen Industries connected to a planned, though never built, armoured vehicle factory in Cape Breton.
The Britan account was activated on July 26, 1993, when $500,000 was transferred to it from the Frankfurt account. The next day, $100,000 was withdrawn from it. A second $100,000 was taken from the account on Nov. 3, 1993.
On July 21, 1994, $50,000 was withdrawn from the Britan account. The last withdrawal from the account was also for $50,000 and came out on Nov. 21, 1994.
Schreiber said he gave Mulroney the money after being approached by former Mulroney chief of staff Fred Doucet. According to Schreiber, Doucet told him Mulroney was not financially well off and needed some help.
Schreiber said he hoped Mulroney would be useful in his continuing efforts to get an armoured vehicle factory built in Cape Breton for Thyssen. However, nothing ever came out of that, said Schreiber.
According to Schreiber, Mulroney only sent him a brochure from Archer Daniels Midland, a company which deals in wheat where the former prime minister was a director. Schreiber owned a pasta business.
In 1999, a spokesman for Mulroney denied any money was exchanged. But in 2003, Mulroney indirectly acknowledged he did receive money from Schreiber but as payment for his help in promoting Schreiber's pasta business.
Schreiber told The Fifth Estate that Mulroney did very little for the money.
"What had he done for the money?" Schreiber said. "Well, I learned to my great surprise that he worked with me on spaghetti."
Mulroney declined requests from The Fifth Estate to offer an explanation.
Schreiber is currently fighting extradition to Germany to face charges of fraud.