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Private investigator in Guergis affair is $13-million in debt

Derek Snowdy, private investigator, owed $11-million to creditors and $2-million to the Canada Revenue Agency when he filed for bankruptcy, according to court documents.

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The private investigator at the centre of sensational allegations surrounding former cabinet minister Helena Guergis filed for bankruptcy last year with more than $13-million in liabilities, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Derrick Snowdy, a Toronto investigator who passed shocking allegations about Ms. Guergis and her husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer, to a Conservative Party lawyer last week, filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009.

Mr. Snowdy owes $2-million to the Canada Revenue Agency, according to documents filed in court. The documents also show a claim of $11-million by a former business partner, and claims for several thousand dollars from banks and credit card companies.

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In an e-mail, Mr. Snowdy said he had nothing to hide and that all matters were conducted within the letter of the law.

According to a report in Thursday's Toronto Star, Mr. Snowdy informed the Conservatives that while working undercover he was told by Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani that three offshore companies in Belize had been "reserved" to hold cash for Ms. Guergis and Mr. Jaffer. The report also said Mr. Gillani told Mr. Snowdy that he had cellphone pictures of the couple partying when cocaine was being snorted.

Mr. Snowdy originally called the Liberal Party with his allegations on Thursday afternoon, on the day that the first story into Mr. Jaffer's affairs appeared in The Star.

The private investigator had likely watched Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's reaction to the piece at a news conference in Mirablel, Que., and asked to talk to his chief of staff, Peter Donolo. Mr. Snowdy told the receptionist that Mr. Ignatieff "had it all wrong," and offered specifically to talk about the Jaffer matter.

The Liberals, however, decided that they weren't about to get into these types of dealings, and never returned the call.

"Given everything that was in the news that day, that would be the type of call that would be handled very cautiously," said a Liberal official. "We didn't want to get involved in that type of a game."

Ms. Guergis's lawyer, meanwhile, is denying the "bizarre" allegations that were forwarded to Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week and led to her resignation.

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In a statement, Howard Rubel also denounced the way that Mr. Snowdy gathered information on Ms. Guergis and Mr. Jaffer.

"After days of unfair speculation we finally know what the allegations are," said Mr. Rubel, referring to recent media reports that include allegations of cocaine use and the threat of blackmail.

"More important, we know that the source of these allegations is a report from a private investigator who, apparently while presenting himself as another potential victim of a man currently facing fraud charges, was told these ridiculous 'boasts' in an attempt to convince the investigator to do business with him."

Mr. Rubel said that "Ms. Guergis vigorously denies all of this man's bizarre claims, and looks forward to helping the RCMP demonstrate that they are completely false."

Also today, Mr. Harper's office clarified that "the Prime Minister did not provide specific details of allegations" when he referred the matter to the Ethics Commissioner and the RCMP last week.

"The referrals to the Commissioner and RCMP made clear that the information was second-hand and identified the source of the information for such follow-up as these authorities felt appropriate," PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas said in a statement.

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A new poll, meanwhile, showed Conservative support eroding since the Guergis scandal forced her resignation from cabinet and expulsion from caucus. EKOS research put the Tories at 31.4 per cent, a drop of slightly more than two points since last week, with the Liberals a 29 per cent - a statistical tie.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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