As an RCMP officer, William Majcher, 60, used fake identities to infiltrate organized crime groups to investigate money laundering. He even went undercover to help the FBI to build a case against a Colombian drug cartel, knowing that if he was outed, a bounty would be put on his head.
After leaving the national police force in 2007, Majcher moved to Hong Kong, where he helped create a firm called Evaluate Monitor Investigate Deter Recover (EMIDR) in 2016. The company’s raison d’etre was to help China and its corporations recover assets it alleged were stolen, Majcher said in previous interviews.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Company in 2019, Majcher admitted to being an “economic mercenary.”
“As long as the claim is valid and we’re doing everything lawful and properly – I’m a hired gun to help either large corporations or governments get back what’s rightfully theirs,” Majcher told ABC.
OPERATION FOX HUNT
Three security experts told CTV National News it’s likely Majcher was part of China’s notorious Operation Fox Hunt, an anti-corruption campaign under the regime of President Xi Jinping.
CTV News asked RCMP Insp. David Beaudoin, head of the Montreal Integrated National Security Enforcement Team that is leading the investigation if Majcher was involved in Fox Hunt. Beaudoin declined to provide more details in order “to respect the work of the courts.”
CTV News has reached out to Majcher’s lawyer, and this article will be updated when a response is received.
Created in 2014, Fox Hunt and its later iteration, Sky Net, targeted Chinese nationals living abroad. Under the program, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would recruit police officers, private investigators and lawyers in foreign countries to help track down fugitives suspected of financial crimes and bring them back to China to face prosecution.
The CCP’s latest statistics from October 2022 show that more than 12,000 Chinese Nationals have been “involuntarily returned” to China under Operation Fox Hunt and Sky Net. According to Safeguard Defenders, a Spanish non-government organization, alleged fugitives were repatriated using extradition as well as covert methods such as threats and kidnapping. Safeguard says targets can also be lured to another country with an extradition treaty with China and arrested there.
And not all of those forced to return home are suspected criminals. Human rights groups say fighting corruption was also a guise used by the CCP to find and silence its critics.
When asked for comment, the Chinese embassy told CTV News in an email, “China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and strictly abides by international law.”
A RARE CHARGE
The RCMP, Majcher’s former employer, has charged him under the rarely used Security of Information Act with preparatory acts for the benefit of a foreign entity and conspiracy. Majcher is accused of foreign interference-related activities for using his knowledge and extensive network of contacts to allegedly help the Chinese government “identify and intimidate” an individual in Canada.
Scott McGregor, a former military intelligence officer who has researched Operation Fox Hunt, says the charges likely stem from Majcher’s work tracking down alleged criminals for the Chinese government.
“It’s likely the information that was gleaned was used by the Chinese to ascertain where these people are. What measures were used to get them back or get back their assets, we’ll find out from court.”
But McGregor points out that prosecuting Majcher under these charges will be complicated because Canada once tacitly supported China’s international efforts to fight corruption.
“It’s a grey zone because there are international laws where this is allowed,” said McGregor.
SHARING STOLEN ASSETS
In September 2016, nearly a year after he became prime minister, Justin Trudeau welcomed former premier Li Keqiang to Canada.
During that visit, Li, China’s second-in-command, sealed a historic agreement to work together to recover and share in the return of stolen assets. According to Chinese state media, Canada was the first country to enter into such a treaty with China since it launched its anti-corruption campaign in 2014.
The CCP estimated that as many as 25 per cent of its most wanted financial fugitives had fled to Canada. Under the agreement, Canada and China would co-operate in investigations and split the proceeds of crime once they were recovered. But where the individual faced prosecution would have to be negotiated, because Canada doesn’t have an extradition treaty with China.
During Li’s visit, where removing trade barriers was also discussed, Trudeau expressed in a speech his excitement about developing “a real partnership that will benefit all our people for generations to come.”
But five years later, the government began striking a different tone. In February 2021,Public Safety Canada issued a warning about Operation Fox Hunt stating that China’s anti-corruption efforts weren’t just used to bring criminals to justice, but its tactics could also be used to “silence dissent, pressure political opponents and instill a general fear of state power on Canadian soil.”
Later that year in the autumn of 2021, the RCMP would begin investigating Majcher.
MORE CANADIANS TARGETED
Police have not released the name of the victim that Majcher is alleged to have targeted, but other Canadian cases related to Operation Fox Hunt have been made public.
Safeguard Defenders claimed in a March 2022 report that Zhang Yan from Canada was warned by Chinese police to return because they had placed his father under arrest. The human rights organization also revealed the presence of a global network of illegal Chinese police stations, including at least five in Canada.
Earlier this year, CTV National News reported on the case of Edward Gong, a Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur and former Toronto mayoral candidate who is suing the Ontario Securities Commission. Gong alleges the OSC endangered his life by co-operating with Chinese police in a fraud investigation.
EROSION OF TRUST
Katherine Leung, a policy advisor for advocacy group Hong Kong Watch, says the arrest of Majcher could also erode the diaspora’s trust in law enforcement.
“They’re told to go to the police when things like this happen,” says Leung. “Knowing that there’s someone who could be in the RCMP today and be on China’s side tomorrow tells us that there needs to be a better way for these diaspora groups to report foreign interference and intimidation.”
Leung wants to see a dedicated phone line to report foreign interference, staffed with workers who can communicate in Cantonese and Mandarin.
Leung says Majcher’s case also illustrates the need to create a foreign agent registry. If the registry existed, Majcher would be legally required to identify himself as someone who worked for the Chinese government instead of allegedly operating in the shadows.
In the meantime, Leung is watching the case to see who else could be implicated. The Mounties say they’re looking into more than 100 cases of foreign interference. Majcher is currently in custody will appear in court again on Tuesday. The RCMP say more arrests and or charges connected to the former Mountie are possible.
Source : CTV