NEWS

Arthur Porter, ex-McGill hospital CEO accused in $22.5M kickback scheme, dies in Panama

07/01/2015 10:56 EDT | Updated 07/01/2016 05:59 EDT
Arthur Porter, the former hospital administrator at Montreal's McGill University who was accused in a $22.5-million kickback scheme, has died in a Panama City hospital following a battle with cancer. 

He was 59.

Pamela Porter, his wife, confirmed the death to CBC News this morning, saying two of Arthur's four daughters will be leaving soon for Panama to retrieve his body.

Dr. Karol Sikora, a U.K. cancer specialist and longtime friend of Arthur Porter, said Porter died of metastatic lung cancer.

Porter, a cancer specialist, had been diagnosed with the disease in 2012. After he was arrested on an international warrant in Panama City in May 2013, he treated himself with experimental drugs while in La Joya prison and fighting extradition to Canada.

In recent weeks, he was moved to Santo Tomas Oncology Hospital for diagnostic work.

Porter, originally from Sierra Leone, had a distinguished career after earning degrees at Cambridge University, and becoming an oncologist specialist. He came to Canada in the 1980s, working in Edmonton and London, Ont., before moving on to the Detroit Medical Center in 1991, becoming its CEO eight years later. 

In 2004, he became head of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and in 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named him to the security intelligence review committee, which he later chaired before resigning in December 2011. 

Porter, 7 others accused of fraud

At the time, media reports mentioned he was trying to get development money for his native Sierra Leone with the help of a shady Montreal businessman.

He also left his job at the MUHC, which under his leadership was finally building a $1.4-billion mega-hospital. 

Within a year, news broke that $22.5 million in kickbacks had been paid by the winning contractor, SNC-Lavalin.

Police have alleged that Porter received $11.25 million in secret commissions for rigging the hospital contract in SNC-Lavalin's favour.

Porter and seven others were accused of the fraud.

By this time, Porter was living in the Bahamas and expanding his own cancer clinics in the Caribbean, while treating himself with chemotherapy. He was in transit to cancer clinics in the Caribbean when he was arrested in Panama CIty on May 27, 2013.

He also leaves behind daughters Gemma, Fiona, Adina and Charlotte.

MORE:cbcNews