Former DMC CEO Arthur Porter arrested in Panama on charges tied to $22.5M in kickbacks

Porter, ArthurArthur Porter, the charismatic former CEO of Detroit Medical Center, has been arrested in Panama, along with his wife, on numerous fraud-related charges, Quebec authorities confirmed to us this morning.

Porter and another official is accused of pocketing $22.5 million in kickbacks while he was director of the troubled McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. He’s charged with fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of trust, laundering criminal proceeds and participating in a secret commission. His wife faces charges of conspiracy and laundering criminal proceeds.

“Extradition proceedings are being undertaken against the two,” Quebec’s anti-corruption police watchdog told us in a statement.

Porter’s meteoric rise from the war-torn country of Sierra Leone to the center of Canada’s business and political establishment is nothing short of spectacular.

During his leadership at DMC between 1999 and 2003, Porter was gutsy, decisive and charming. He cut more than a third of the staff and consolidated hospitals and clinics. Still, DMC lost more than $250 million under Porter’s watch.

In 2003, despite DMC’s deteriorating financial condition, Porter and an associate were running a dozen private businesses, from a cancer clinic in the Bahamas to an auto-parts supply company, a Detroit Free Press investigation found.

Mike Duggan, a candidate for Detroit mayor and former Wayne County prosecutor, took over in 2004 and resigned at the end of last year to prepare for his mayoral run.

Porter, who also was the former head of Canada’s spy agency watchdog, is among several officials facing fraud-related charges tied to the construction of a $1.3-billion McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.

Authorities say Porter and the center’s planning director, Yanai Elbaz, accepted kickbacks of at least $22.5 million from contractors involved in the construction project. At the same time, Porter was leader of the health center while it accumulated a $115 million deficit, officials told us earlier this year.

Turns out, the center’s plans to pave an “Arthur T. Porter Way” on hospital property was canceled.

Porter most recently ran a private cancer treatment center in the Bahamas.

It’s unclear what he was doing in Panama.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.