Defendant in MUHC fraud trial seeks to have charges tossed

Yohann Elbaz, one of five men facing charges in what one investigator called "the biggest case of corruption fraud in Canadian history," is seeking to have his case thrown out, citing the Jordan ruling which limits trial delays.

Trial for Yohann Elbaz, 1 of 5 still facing charges in SNC-Lavalin bribery scandal, still 1 year away

Three former SNC-Lavalin senior executives, as well as a former administrator at the McGill University Hospital Centre and his brother, are awaiting trial for charges related to the alleged MUHC bribery scandal. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

One of the defendants in the McGill University Health Centre fraud trial — what one investigator called "the biggest case of corruption fraud in Canadian history" — is seeking to have charges against him tossed, based on the Jordan ruling.

Yohann Elbaz is one of five defendants in the case. He's facing several charges, including fraud and money laundering.

Lawyer Yohann Elbaz faces fraud and money-laundering charges. His trial is set for October 2018. (Sûreté du Québec)

The Crown alleges top executives from SNC-Lavalin paid a $22.5-million bribe to MUHC senior administrators to secure the $1.3-billion contract to build the MUHC's Glenn superhospital.

Yohann Elbaz is a lawyer and the brother of Yanai Elbaz, a former MUHC executive also charged in the case.

Elbaz's lawyer, Walid Hijazi, filed a motion requesting a stay of proceedings based on unreasonable delays during a pretrial conference in Quebec court Wednesday.

"I consider delays in this file to be extremely long.  Mr. Elbaz was arrested in April 2013.  He got his trial date just today," Hijazi said.

Hijazi will present his arguments in court Nov. 15.
The Crown alleges top executives from SNC-Lavalin paid a $22.5-million bribe to MUHC senior administrators to secure the $1.3-billion contract to build the MUHC's Glenn superhospital, above. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The Jordan ruling, issued by the Supreme Court of Canada in July 2016, imposed new deadlines on the justice system to avoid unreasonable trial delays.

Provincial court trials must now be wrapped up within 18 months — up to 30 months, if there is a preliminary inquiry — and trials at the Superior Court face a 30-month deadline. 

Trials set for late 2018, early 2019

Along with the Elbaz brothers, the other defendants in the case are former SNC-Lavalin executives, ex-CEO Pierre Duhaime, Riadh Ben Aissa and Stéphane Roy.

The MUHC's ex-CEO Arthur Porter died in jail in Panama in 2015. (CBC)

Arthur Porter, the former CEO of the MUHC, was also facing charges in the case before his death from cancer in 2015.

At the time, Porter was in jail in Panama, where he was fighting extradition to Canada to face the charges.

Porter's wife, Pamela Porter, pleaded guilty in late 2014 to two counts of laundering the proceeds of crime and was sentenced to 33 months for her role in the alleged bribery scandal connected to the superhospital project.

From left to right, former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime, former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president Riadh Ben Aïssa and the MUHC's former director of redevelopment, planning and real estate management, Yanaï Elbaz. (Canadian Press/Radio-Canada)

Yohann Elbaz and Stéphane Roy are each having separate trials. 

Yanai Elbaz, Pierre Duhaime and Riadh Ben Aissa are being tried together, while Yohann Elbaz and Stéphane Roy will each have separate trials.

A judge set dates for all three trials Wednesday.

Yohann Elbaz's trial is set to run from October 2018 to December 2018, while Roy's trial is set to run from October 2018 to January 2019.

The trial for Duhaime, Ben Aissa and Yanai Elbaz is set for January 2019 and is expected to last eight months.