RCMP Commissioner issues statement on arrest of Cameron Ortis

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on Monday said in a statement that the the charges against Cameron Ortis, Director General of the RCMP’s National Intelligence Coordination Centre, for alleged criminality under the Criminal Code and the Security of Information Act have shaken many people throughout the RCMP, particularly in federal policing.

She added: “As you can appreciate, the charges have not been proven in court and there is a need to protect the ongoing investigation and allow due process to occur.”

On Thursday, September 12, the RCMP arrested Ortis who has been employed by the RCMP since 2007 and has held positions in Operations Research and National Security Criminal Investigations.

Lucki said: “By virtue of the positions he held, Mr. Ortis had access to information the Canadian intelligence community possessed. He also had access to intelligence coming from our allies both domestically and internationally. This level of access is appropriate given the positions he held.

“This is an ongoing investigation and we are assessing the impacts of the alleged activities as information becomes available. We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad and we thank them for their continued collaboration. We assure you that mitigation strategies are being put in place as required.

“While these allegations, if proven true, are extremely unsettling, Canadians and our law enforcement partners can trust that our priority continues to be the integrity of the investigations and the safety and security of the public we serve.”

According to the Globe and Mail, Ortis, 47, is a native of Abbotsford, B.C. He graduated from the University of British Columbia with a doctorate in political science and a keen interest in security in the digital age. During his studies, he got job offers from government agencies and private companies. According to his LinkedIn profile he started working as an adviser for the federal government in 2007. 

The Globe and Mail reports: “As recently as last month, he was working on a probe of defrauded Russian tax money being laundered through Canada,” according to Bill Browder, an anti-Putin campaigner. Browder said he had met with Mr. Ortis in 2017 to press for an RCMP investigation of the tax scheme uncovered by Browder’s late employee, tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, in the 2000s.

Browder told the newspaper that Ortis “seems like the last person one would expect to be a spy for a foreign country.”

The Globe and Mail later reported that the RCMP discovered one of its internal documents on a laptop belonging to Vincent Ramos, a Vancouver businessman linked to organized crime, was seized by American authorities in March, 2018, that sparked the investigation that led to Ortis.

Ramos’ company, Phantom Secure, produced encrypted communications devices used by criminal organizations. He pleaded guilty in the U.S. to conspiring to distribute narcotics and racketeering and was sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this year.

The RCMP created a list of their personnel who could have been responsible for the alleged security breach and finally arrested Ortis, according to the Globe and Mail report.

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