Gauthier, a geologist who has spent years in legal limbo after allegedly uncovering fraud at a gold company, said on Tuesday he was in a Dubai hotel last week when he received a call from authorities to tell him saying he could leave the country.
The criminal charges against him were dropped last June, but it took nearly a year for the parallel civil cases to be closed and for authorities to negotiate his release.
“It was day 328 that I was waiting for this call,” he said in a telephone interview from Quebec, referring to the time he spent waiting to leave Dubai after the charges were dropped. criminal.
“I don’t have to tell you, I didn’t sleep that night. “
The 67-year-old said he was first arrested in 2015 after alerting UAE authorities to irregular transactions with gold trading company Gold AE.
He and his lawyer, however, say he was made a scapegoat in the $ 30 million fraud case after the real perpetrators left the country and the company’s investors filed a lawsuit against him.
Gauthier said the hardest thing about his ordeal was to feel amazing. “You think you are doing the right thing by reporting something and bringing it to the authorities, and bringing it to the management of the company,” said Gauthier, who was himself one of the directors of the company. ‘business.
“(You feel) like you’re doing it all for nothing, basically because no one wants to solve it. “
A low point came when Gauthier, who was facing around 70 criminal charges, attempted to escape to Oman in 2019 and was intercepted and jailed. It was the only time his faith in his release wavered.
“I just sent a message to my son, my wife and my daughter to say that they had better forget about me because with what I had in front of me, I don’t know when or if I would be back, ”he said.
UK-based lawyer Radha Stirling credits the Canadian government for a sustained diplomatic effort to free her client, and Gauthier’s family for pushing relentlessly for his release.
“I think the Canadian government has done a good job and set a very good example for other countries on how this can be done,” she said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Her only criticism is that she feels it took too long to secure her freedom. The real perpetrators of the case, Stirling said, have not been brought to justice.
Stirling, founder of the Dubai Detained organization, said she also believes foreign governments need to do more to stand up to the UAE government.
“These UAE money laundering scams happen all the time and we have more and more of them, and they target Canadian and US investors, and we turn a blind eye to this type of abuse,” she said. said.
Gauthier said his father died in Quebec while in detention and that he had exhausted his financial resources to fight the cases.
Now at home in quarantine with his wife, he says he will spend the next few weeks and months recovering his driver’s license and health insurance, and wants to visit his extended family in the Saguenay region of Quebec. . Eventually, he wants to return to the mining industry.
He wants to send a message to the families of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians who have been detained in China in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei leader Meng Wanzhou, to tell them not to give up.
“I can tell these families that it is important to keep the faith that the government will try to find a solution,” he said.
“How long will it take, unfortunately it’s a file that is much more complicated than mine, but they must keep the hope that everything will work within a reasonable time. “
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 11, 2021.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press