Jaffer had contract with firm: Gillani
Businessman calls ex-MP's claim that dealings ended months ago 'untrue'
Nazim Gillani, a Toronto businessman at the centre of lobbying allegations against Rahim Jaffer, has challenged the former Conservative MP's assertion that no business relationship existed between his company and Gillani's firm.
Gillani, who insisted on being sworn in for his testimony on Wednesday before a parliamentary committee in Ottawa, told MPs he sought a business relationship with Jaffer because the former MP and his partner said they "knew how to negotiate the government maze."
Gillani also presented documents to the committee that suggest his firm had a contract with Jaffer's company to help secure government funding. The contract Gillani presented, dated Sept. 21, 2009, states Jaffer's firm was "in ongoing dialogue with, and has valuable connections to" the federal government.
Gillani told the committee that Jaffer's business partner, Patrick Glémaud, revised and signed the document, then submitted it to Gillani's lawyer for revision.
Gillani said he and Jaffer planned to travel to China in April until media reports about their dealings turned the Toronto businessman's life into "complete mayhem."
"Mr. Jaffer seemed to state to this committee last week that he ended our relationship months ago," Gillani said Wednesday. "This was untrue."
Jaffer testified last Wednesday his firm, Green Power Generation, broke off its dealings with Gillani early on once he realized there was "no synergy." Glémaud, who appeared before the committee alongside his partner, denied signing any agreement with Gillani.
"We didn't enter to any contract with him whatsoever," Glémaud testified.
Opposition parties have accused Jaffer of conducting unregistered lobbying and improperly using his wife Helena Guergis's parliamentary office. During their testimony last week, Jaffer and Glémaud insisted they never lobbied the federal government or received a penny of government funds.
During his testimony, Gillani admitted he was "excited" on the day —Sept. 11, 2009 — he wrote an email to his business associates saying that Jaffer "opened the doors" to the Prime Minister's Office for them. He insisted the words were his alone and Jaffer should bear no responsibility for them.
Jaffer 'lied his ass off': NDP's Martin
Gillani also denied he had any incriminating photos of Jaffer or his wife with cocaine or prostitutes, as has been alleged by Toronto private investigator Derrick Snowdy.
"I have no such photos, and I took no such photos," he told the committee. "I have never seen Mr. Jaffer use cocaine, in possession of cocaine, or speak of cocaine. I do not use cocaine, nor have I ever been a drug dealer."
Gillani testified that Jaffer and Glémaud never obtained grant money for any company referred to them by his company, International Strategic Investments (ISI).
"ISI never paid any money or gave any compensation to them or their company," Gillani said, adding he was not aware of the federal Lobbying Act or Accountability Act before this mishap.
During his round of questioning, NDP MP Pat Martin, who tangled with Jaffer in heated exchanges last week, again attacked the former Tory MP's credibility and accused him of influence-peddling.
"Mr. Gillani, Mr. Jaffer sat where you are sitting now and lied his ass off to us," Martin told the committee.
Martin said the committee will push to recall Jaffer because it's now clear that he was involved in "illegal lobbying."
Witness slams media 'distortions and innuendo'
Gillani said the effect of allegations against his business in media reports has been devastating, adding the "unsubstantiated distortions and innuendo" have also led to the derailment of his plans to marry his girlfriend.
He called Snowdy's allegations that he had set up offshore bank accounts and illegal tax havens for Jaffer "an absolute lie."
Gillani also hit out at a Toronto Star report that alleged he and Jaffer dined with prostitutes the night that Jaffer was arrested for speeding, drunk driving and cocaine possession. Gillani said the report deeply hurt the women the two were with that evening, whom he described as friends of his girlfriend.
In March, Jaffer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of careless driving in connection with the Sept. 10, 2009, arrest. He was given a $500 fine in a plea agreement that saw the more serious charges against him dropped.
Guergis was forced to resign from cabinet and was kicked out of the Conservative caucus earlier this month after Prime Minister Stephen Harper forwarded what he called "serious and credible" allegations about her conduct to the RCMP and ethics commissioner.
She has denied any wrongdoing and pledged to co-operate with any investigation. Gillani testified he only met Guergis once on a "completely social" occasion.
With files from the Canadian Press