A Halifax businessman who is living abroad has been committed to stand trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on a charge of violating Canada’s economic sanctions against Syria.
Nader Mohamad Kalai, a Syrian national with permanent resident status in Canada, is the first person to be charged with breaching the sanctions Canada imposed on the Assad regime in response to the violent crackdown on peaceful protests calling for democratic reform.
The Canada Border Services Agency, which laid the charge last June, alleges Kalai violated the Special Economic Measures (Syria) Regulations by making a payment of 15 million Syrian pounds to a company called Syrialink on Nov. 27, 2013.
Kalai, 53, is owner and president of Telefocus Consultants Inc., a telecommunications consulting company that operates out of his home on Young Avenue in south-end Halifax and also has an office in Beirut, Lebanon.
Kalai is now believed to be living in Damascus, Syria. A preliminary inquiry was held in his absence in Halifax provincial court over several days beginning in January, and Judge Marc Chisholm delivered his decision Tuesday.
Chisholm ruled there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial in Supreme Court. Kalai’s lawyers will appear in Supreme Court in Halifax on June 13 to begin the process of setting dates for a judge-alone trial.
Documents submitted to a judge to obtain those warrants reveal the CBSA opened an investigation in June 2016 after an intelligence officer received information that Kalai, who moved to Halifax in 2009, was in business with individuals associated with the Assad regime.
Kalai is a leading businessperson operating in Syria, with significant investments in the construction industry, oil derivatives, monuments and tourism investments in partnership with Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Bashar al-Assad.
Considered one of Assad’s henchmen and economic arms, he runs economic business for Bashar al-Assad and runs huge investments for businessmen and officials closely associated with the regime who are subject to international economic sanctions. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)