The former head of a Richmond pharmaceutical company is facing extradition to the United Kingdom after being caught allegedly possessing $9-million worth of stolen drugs in 2007.
A committal hearing for Mahmood Sheraly Aziz is scheduled for B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver next week. Aziz, who was arrested in Canada last March, is out on bail, according to the federal justice branch.
The attorney-general of Canada, on behalf of the U.K., is seeking Aziz's extradition in connection with the theft of a large shipment of bulk pharmaceuticals, manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, from a depot near Reading, England, in 2005.
According to court documents, a private eye noticed the stolen drugs for sale on the Internet a month after the theft and was hired by Novartis to investigate. Feigning an interest in buying the drugs, the investigator was led to Aziz, who met with him in North London in 2007, took him to the warehouse where the pharmaceuticals were stored and gave him some samples.
When Novartis confirmed the pharmaceuticals were from the stolen batch, the investigator set up a second meeting, during which Aziz was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property. Aziz, who was let out on bail, failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance in the U.K. in 2008.
At the time, Aziz had been head of Sino Pharmaceuticals, which is now known as Canagen Pharmaceuticals Inc. He is still listed in company search records as a director of, while he is also chairman and president of the Fazio group of companies.
Aziz told the court last month there is no evidence that he knew the drugs were stolen and therefore he should not be extradited, court documents show. He also claims he did not know of the scheduled court appearance in the U.K.
Although he initially told the private investigator that he was the owner of the pharmaceuticals, Aziz now claims he was just the "broker" for the sale. In an affidavit provided to the court, he said he and his company, Sino Pharmaceuticals, had been approached by an international trader to broker the deal.
Aziz sought to introduce new evidence - including his own affidavit and one from the man who asked him to broker the sale.
But Justice Catherine Bruce ruled last week the evidence was inadmissible because it falls outside the mandate of a committal judge.