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Federal COVID-19 subsidy went to company of man on no-fly list for alleged terrorist financing

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A company run by a man on Canada’s no-fly list for allegedly financing terrorism and another barred from government national security contracts over alleged links to Indian intelligence were among the recipients of federal COVID-19 relief funds, records show.

Yellow Car Rental and Life Prediction Technologies were both recipients of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), according to an online Canada Revenue Agency database of successful applicants for the pandemic assistance program.

“I was eligible so I applied for it,” said Baghat Singh Brar, who is listed in corporate records as a director of 2164683 Ontario Inc., whose operating name is Yellow Car Rental, based in Brampton, Ont.

Brar has been on Canada’s no-fly list since 2018.

He declined to say how much he had received but said he was using the money to pay his mortgage and household expenses. “Have I ever funded terrorists? No I haven’t,” he said.

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But the Canadian Security Intelligence Service alleged in a report he was a “Canada-based Khalistani extremist who has been engaged in [redacted] terrorist-related activities, particularly in fundraising in support of terrorist attacks overseas.”

CSIS alleged he worked with Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service to plan an attack in India and was involved in “promoting extremism, including the radicalization of youth … and attack planning and facilitation, including weapons procurement.”

Public Safety Canada, the RCMP, CSIS, Canada Border Services Agency and Transport Canada gave their approval to placing him on the no-fly list.

Reached by phone, Brar denied the allegations, which he is appealing in the Federal Court. He said they were based on Indian newspaper articles and he was being targeted because of his father, Lakhbir Singh Brar, who was a leader of the International Sikh Youth Federation, a listed terrorist group.

“100 per cent, I haven’t done anything wrong in my life.”

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Under the CEWS program, companies hurt by COVID-19 can apply for subsidies that cover part of their employees’ wages.

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“The intention of CEWS is to enable employers to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease businesses back into normal operations,” a CRA spokesperson said.

The agency did not respond when asked whether applicants were subjected to national security screening.

Another recipient of the pandemic wage subsidy, Life Prediction Technologies Inc. (LPTi), was removed from the federal government’s controlled goods program in 2018.

The security clearances of its president, Ashok Koul, and half-owner, Anju Koul, were also revoked.

In a letter to the aerospace company’s president, Public Services and Procurement Canada said an investigation had found he “had consistent contact with the Indian High Commission in Ottawa, including elements of the Indian government involved in information and intelligence collection activities in Canada.”

Anju Koul received a similar letter alleging she had failed to report her social contacts with “elements of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa.” The company had previously worked on Canadian military contracts.

Read more: Ottawa company barred from national security work after alleged contact with Indian intelligence

The Kouls are appealing the decision in Federal Court.

“LPTi is an operating company and claimed the wage subsidy as such,” their lawyer, Thomas G. Conway, said in an email. “The security clearance you note was a requirement related to services the company provided to the federal government’s satisfaction for many years.

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“Those services were only one aspect of LPTi’s business activities. There is a dispute between the federal government and LPTi over its lost security clearance. That dispute will be determined by the Federal Court. Our client hopes that that dispute will be determined in its favour.”

Neither Brar nor the Kouls face charges.

Last month, Vice reported that far-right figure Paul Fromm had collected CEWS funding as well. His two groups, the Canadian Association for Free Expression and Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, are both on the government’s list of recipients.

A self-described white nationalist, Fromm has appeared in photos with individuals posing with the banner of Combat 18 and Blood and Honour, neo-Nazi groups on Canada’s list of terrorist organizations.

More recently, he has been appearing at anti-lockdown events.

“We qualified,” Fromm said of his CEWS funding. He said he was neither a neo-Nazi nor a white supremacist, and said criticism about his groups receiving pandemic relief were “part of a cancel culture.”

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

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