Arrested Canadian police official had access to foreign intelligence

Cameron Ortis served as the Director General of the RCMP's National Intelligence Coordination Centre and "had access to information the Canadian intelligence community possessed," the RCMP has said (AFP Photo/Marvin RECINOS)

Ottawa (AFP) - A senior Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) intelligence officer arrested last week for allegedly stealing sensitive documents had access to information from Canada's foreign allies, the RCMP said Monday.

Cameron Ortis, who was arrested Thursday, served as the Director General of the RCMP's National Intelligence Coordination Centre and "had access to information the Canadian intelligence community possessed," the RCMP commissioner said in a statement.

"He also had access to intelligence coming from our allies both domestically and internationally," said Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

"We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad," the statement said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.

Lucki did not specify which foreign organizations may have been exposed to the theft of secrets, which allegedly took place between 2016 and 2019.

Canada is a member of the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance with Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States.

The Globe and Mail reported Saturday that Ortis's arrest was linked to a major investigation into the laundering of stolen Russian funds.

Ortis, 47, as recently as August was said to be overseeing a probe into whether some of the money was funneled through Canada.

The "extremely unsettling" accusations have "shaken" the RCMP, Lucki said in the statement.

"We assure you that mitigation strategies are being put in place," she said.

Ortis's actions allegedly took place between 2016 and 2019.

According to the Globe and Mail, the corruption investigation was looking at a $230-million fraud scheme allegedly run by senior Russian interior ministry and tax officials that was first revealed by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax advisor.

Magnitsky, who eventually became a symbol of the fight against corruption, died in detention after spending 11 months in prison in 2009.

Ortis's involvement in the case came after William Browder, a British financier and former investor in Russia whom Magnitsky worked for, filed a complaint with the RCMP in 2016.

Ortis, who has worked for the RCMP since 2007, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the five charges brought against him under Canada's criminal code and its Security of Information Act.