A Halifax businessman and Syrian permanent resident will be going to trial for violating Canadian sanctions against Syria.
Nader Kalai allegedly sent a $140,000 payment to a Syria-based company on Nov. 27, 2013.
Sanctions were imposed on Syria in 2011 under Canada’s Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA).
According to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), Kalai was investigated for two years after receiving information that he was allegedly conducting business with the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
The CBSA also alleges that Kalai lied about his work history in order to be granted permanent residence in Canada.
Charges were laid on the Syrian man after officials raided his home and office and seized electronic devices. The Canada Revenue Agency is also investigating Kalai for evading taxes and not reporting his income.
If convicted under SEMA legislation, Kalai could face a prison sentence of up to five years. Only one other company has been convicted for breaking sanctions since the law came into effect in 1992.
Kalai also has a travel ban and asset freeze imposed on him by the European Union for violating its own sanctions.
Official EU documents describe Kalai as a “leading businessperson operating in Syria, with significant investments in the construction industry.”
Part of Kalai’s alleged activity in the country includes a 50% stake in a construction company involved in an agreement with the Syrian regime to construct a luxury tourist city called Grand Town.
“[Nader Kalai] benefits from and/or supports the regime through his business activities, in particular through this stake in the Grand Town development,” writes the Official Journal of the European Union.