A Panama hospital has confirmed Arthur Porter, former head of the MUHC, is dead. He was 59.
The hospital registry at the National Oncology Institute in Panama states Porter died Tuesday. It is unclear what time he passed away.
Porter, an oncologist, revealed he had stage four lung cancer two years ago. Porter had been treating himself in prison until recently, when he was moved into a hospital, according to Jeff Todd, who wrote his memoir. Todd said he last spoke to Porter a few days ago via text message.
“He was optimistic, he was hopeful, because he was going to be receiving some new drugs that were supposed to arrive on Monday, but the oncologist at the hospital deemed him too sick to take them. His liver was in really bad shape, so he didn't administer the drug and Porter died two days later,” he said.
Porter has been fighting extradition to Canada for two years and has been detained in a Panamanian prison since May 2013. He faces fraud charges in Canada related to a $1.3-billion MUHC superhospital project, which has been called the biggest fraud and corruption investigation in Canadian history.
Police allege SNC-Lavalin bribed Porter and former assistant Yani Elbaz in order to be awarded the superhospital contract, an accusation Porter has denied.
The MUHC released a short statement saying it extends its condolences to his family but will not comment further on his passing.
Porter resigned as CEO and director general of the MUHC in December 2011, after being in the position since 2004.
A month earlier, he stepped down as the civilian chief of the Security Intelligence Review Committee after reports surfaced that he had forged a business arrangement with a notorious international lobbyist. He said he decided to quit due to the appearance of a conflict of interest. After resigning from the MUHC, he left the country and headed to the Bahamas.
Meantime, in September 2012, Quebec's anti-corruption task force UPAC raided the MUHC’s downtown offices in connection with an investigation into the awarding of contracts in the superhospital project.
In February 2013, UPAC issued warrants for Porter, Elbaz and three other MUHC executives in connection with a fraud investigation. Porter said at the time he was too sick to travel from the Bahamas to Canada to answer to the allegations. However, he and his wife Pamela Mattock Porter were arrested in Panama in May 2013.
Pamela pleaded guilty to money laundering charges this past December in Montreal, but Arthur has been in Panama since his arrest, detained while fighting extradition.
Porter and Todd often spoke about Porter difficulty in getting medical treatment while in Panama. Todd said while some might say Porter didn’t return to Canada to be treated here because he was guilty, Todd believes it was Porter’s pride that kept him in Central America.
“From the very beginning he felt like he was victimized, convicted in the media right away and felt that he was public enemy number one. If I was dying and knew I was going to die, I don’t think I’d come back in chains and be that poster boy,” he said.
He is survived by his wife and four daughters Gemma, Adina, Fiona and Charlotte.