Ex-Liberal MP faces two counts of breaching trust over allegations of using public office for 'personal gain'

According to evidence presented by the Crown, Raj Grewal received numerous deposits exceeding $10,000 after being elected as an MP, worth nearly $6 million in total.

Ex-Liberal MP faces two counts of breaching trust over allegations of using public office for 'personal gain'
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal is seeking the dismissal of two criminal charges connected to his time in office after his lawyer said prosecutors lacked evidence to convict him on two counts of breaching trust.

Grewal‘s lawyer is hopeful his client will not face a conviction, citing insufficient evidence and the Crown's inability to establish essential elements required for such a finding.

The Crown insinuates that the former Liberal MP used his political office for personal gain, offering access to events with the prime minister and help with immigration files in exchange for large loans that went toward his gambling debt.

Supposedly, he offered lenders face time with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in exchange for their financial help.

According to a filing with the Ontario Superior Court, the defence maintains that the prosecution's case doesn't hold water because Grewal's conduct in office was "non-criminal."

Grewal appeared in court virtually on Monday when his lawyer, Nader Hasan, forwarded a motion for a directed verdict and an acquittal on all charges.

Hasan penned in his written arguments the difference between misusing one’s official status for a corrupt purpose and making a mistake – or even acting dishonourably – while serving in office.

"The latter is not a breach of trust," reads the document. "It may be an error in judgment deserving of administrative sanction, or it may simply be a personal failing that has no sufficient nexus to merit sanction at all."

"Either way, it is not criminal."

Grewal became MP after securing the Brampton East riding in 2015, where he failed to disclose large loans to the federal ethics commissioner.

He resigned in 2018 after his gambling problem became public and did not seek a re-election bid.

According to evidence presented by the Crown, Raj Grewal received nearly $6 million worth of deposits exceeding $10,000 after being elected as an MP. Significant amounts of that money went to payments at the Casino Lac-Leamy.

A former Liberal staffer testified that Yusuf Yenilmez and Andy Dhugga received invites to a private meet-and-greet with Trudeau during his storied trip to India in 2018.

Both Brampton-area businessmen claimed to have provided Grewal with $200,000 loans as his friends and not in exchange for access to the prime minister.

The defence submission said neither viewed a possible photo-op with Trudeau as "particularly valuable."

Prosecutors also alleged that seven other lenders received letters supporting applications for temporary resident visas from Grewal's office.

Hasan noted that MPs' offices regularly provide them to constituents, though they are not a necessary part of the application packages.

He detested the accusation, stating it "defies common sense," as such letters are "not scarce" for an MP's office to hand out.

Hasan argues that if Grewal "refused to provide these men with these standard constituency services simply because he had a personal relationship with them or obtained personal loans from them," it would have been more problematic.

In 2020, the RCMP charged him with four counts of breach of trust and one count of fraud over $5,000, but only two violations of trust charges remain.

To establish a breach of trust charge, the Crown must present evidence that Grewal's conduct in connection with the duties of his office represented a serious and marked departure from the standards expected of someone in his position or that he acted intending to use his public office for a purpose other than the public good.

Grewal's defence claims the Crown has not passed that bar since the trial began last summer.

If they fail to obtain a directed verdict from the judge, the trial could continue well into the spring.

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