Ottawa Construction News staff writer
Roland Eid, the former president of ICI Construction, whose business went down in flames in bankruptcy in 2007, has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
Superior Court judge Timothy Ray also set a $1.7 million fine – representing the money he took when he fled to Lebanon, part of a story with twists and turns including his assertions that he had been an informant for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), which he asserted had directed him to set up the company in an initiative to gain intelligence about Hezbollah, a Muslim Shia group whose activities, primarily against Israel, have been associated with global terrorism.
The judge didn’t buy that story, instead looking at the financial manipulations that caused hardship for subtrades and pushed ICI’s financier – factoring business Acorn Partners – into bankruptcy. Ray estimated that Eid’s malfeasance resulted in $8 million in financial losses.
Crown prosecutor Moray Welch had earlier described the story as the “biggest commercial fraud ever to occur in the Ottawa area.”
Ray accepted the crown’s arguments and evidence. “It’s not just the $1.7 million (Eid transferred to Lebanon),” he said. People who trusted him were harmed. “You lied to them over and over again,” he said. ” It was a gigantic con. It was their blind trust in you that permitted you to manipulate them.”