Exclusive: RCMP targeting former Mounties in Chinese interference probe
Kim Marsh, author of policing memoir Cunning Edge, describes an unanticipated new chapter stemming from his investigation of a Chinese National with major real estate assets in Canada
I first heard in 2020 about a sensitive probe involving a former Mountie in Hong Kong.
Bill Majcher, an undercover operator with extensive contacts in Canada’s law enforcement community, was reputed for his deep Rolodex and knowledge of transnational financial crime.
That’s why I called him five years ago, after Chinese-Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua was kidnapped from a Hong Kong penthouse by Chinese security agents.
Some thought Xiao knew too much about the Politburo Standing Committee’s financial secrets, so he was being held incommunicado in Shanghai. I obtained Canadian government emails that showed others believed Xiao had died after vanishing from Hong Kong.
During our brief phone call, Majcher said from what he’d heard from his Chinese sources, he didn’t think Xiao survived the kidnapping.
I called Majcher again in late 2019 for comment on fallout from the arrest of Cameron Ortis, an RCMP intelligence boss.
Months later I started to gather from sources that Majcher was facing questions from CSIS, and other Canadians were too, due to their communications with him.
In July 2023, after many interviews, I confirmed RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) is questioning whether Majcher got entangled in foreign interference via President Xi Jinping’s so-called Fox Hunt repatriations.
I got insight into these sensitive investigations by interviewing people questioned about Majcher.
One of them is a former Mountie named Kim Marsh.
The broad purpose of this Q and A piece was to delve into Marsh’s new book Cunning Edge, a memoir on his career in international policing and ultimately private investigations.
I also wanted to discuss our shared interest in tracking suspicious funds flooding into Canadian real estate from China and Russia and how these regimes use gangsters as proxies to interfere in the West.
But Bill Majcher also figures prominently into a Chinese corruption case that Marsh investigated.
I know the case well and it has thrust Marsh into INSET’s sights.
So Marsh agreed to discuss that.
I also contacted Majcher to get his response on what I have heard from Marsh and others aware of INSET’s probe.
Majcher said he has “provided assistance to a number of Governments and have made no secret whatsoever of my activities.”
“I 100 percent maintain that there has been nothing unlawful about any of my actions insofar as providing advice or assistance to China or any other Government for that matter,” Majcher wrote. “If CSIS or INSET (I helped train the first INSET teams post 9-11, incidentally) have evidence of me being involved in foreign interference in Canada or elsewhere, I would unequivocally refute that allegation.”
“Regarding MENG, Wanzhou,” Majcher continued, “I was not surprised in the days following her arrest when I received a call from a very well-known Multinational Think Tank based in Beijing, asking if I could attend Canada and provide an assessment as to what was happening with Ms. MENG.
I advised Canada has a transparent legal system so likely very little I would be able to add that is not already known.”
He added, “realising the sensitivity of the MENG matter I self reported to Canadian authorities and even to the British who within eight weeks of her arrest, invited me to attend the British Parliament [to testify on cyber-security.]”
I have edited my conversation with Kim Marsh for length and clarity.
A Mountie memoir and a PRC probe
I wanted to start by acknowledging that you and I have worked together. We collaborated [in 2016] on the first major story exposing alleged real estate money laundering in Canada, especially Vancouver.
So can you recall the person we were both looking into?
I'll start by saying, I was looking at understanding all this mystery money flooding into Vancouver. There was a developer that started to get a major footprint after 2010. I started looking at his connections to some big-time real estate agents, and it flowed from there. So tell me how you got onto him and what you found.
Okay, this individual first came to my attention through a long-term client of mine, who had entered into some business transactions with this individual.
I’ll just call him a Chinese National. My client was concerned that the Chinese National had a checkered past. And his source of wealth was in question.
I was not given much information about him.
This person could not write English and signed his name in Chinese characters.
I had a very good researcher who knew the language that started working with that small piece of information. And we came up with the proper identification of the Chinese National.
And in the Chinese media there was a picture of him. And it was a story about him going on the run after bilking the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), out of around $455-million.
The story also indicated he was believed to be in either Australia or Canada.
So we were onto the right guy and we began to drill down into his history in China.
He became, very quickly from the 1990s to about 2002, if my memory serves me properly, he went from being a hairdresser to being a billionaire.
And we normally, if you acquire that kind of wealth, there's a path, right?
There wasn't much there. And then we started to drill down on what he had in Canada.
There were numerous assets. And what was a bit shocking, we received information that he came through the Quebec Immigration Program.
Our understanding was that he corrupted a Quebec immigration officer. We were not able to corroborate that, but we were able to corroborate that he did come into Quebec. He landed there, spent the winter, and then moved out to the West Coast and started acquiring assets.
He had a huge ranch farm out in Richmond, a large home in Shaughnessy, golf course, hotels, just on and on.
And what stood out for me was he had relationships with banks and public companies. A number of regulators and compliance people had to have looked at him. So why was no one questioning his source of wealth?
So I started working with some British people I knew, who were connected with a New Zealand former law enforcement person, who had a relationship with banks who'd been bilked by Chinese Nationals.
He was working with these banks to try to recover their losses. And so we tried to go to ICBC. We went directly to the bank. We went through a board of directors.
We went to a law firm that represented the bank. And we're not getting any traction, which was perplexing. Why wouldn't they want to pursue the individual?
[editor’s note: Marsh continues to explain that after getting no interest from ICBC, he arranged with The Province in 2016 to collaborate on a story about the Vancouver real estate developer whom I also had been investigating.The story was published and exposed a lack of action on the part of provincial and federal regulators.]
And [the story] was printed and it was quite an exposé. But nothing happened. Let me fast forward. The Chinese came out with Operation Fox Hunt. I was there in Hong Kong. The person that I just described, the Chinese National, he wasn't [on the Fox Hunt ‘wanted’ list.]
I brought [the Chinese National’s name] to Billy Majcher, a longtime Mountie undercover operator, that was in Hong Kong. He tells me he's working with the Chinese government in the capacity of helping them locate individuals or pursue individuals. I can't remember the exact dialogue.
Can I jump in, he said that he was working with the Ministry of Public Security or a Public Security Bureau, which is basically China’s [national] police?
Yeah, the Public Security Bureau (PSB). I might cause him some consternation with that. But I don't think so. Yeah, he said he was working with PSB or had a connection, let me put it that way. He knew an individual that was connected.
And I think that would be more accurate. And that they might be interested in this individual and perhaps there's an opportunity there.
Sorry, I just want the readers to follow. We're talking about the Chinese National. This Vancouver real estate baron, that both of us were kind of in parallel worlds, trying to discover information on?
Yeah, that's right. We weren't immigration officers. We didn't get full disclosure.
We just got this signature. And I was amazed why nobody was pursuing him. I had a meeting with a [high-level] RCMP officer who came around to my office.
We discussed the fact that this individual was very exposed and blatant. And I never heard anything back [from the RCMP.]
And then I realized Majcher knew somebody that had connections to, I believe, the Public Security Bureau, who could very well be interested in this person.
And we started some dialogue about how they may be able to pursue him.
Now, normally the Public Security Bureau would go police-to-police and state-to-state.
That's the way it's supposed to work. We thought perhaps because ICBC is a state-owned-enterprise … We were hoping that they would get some civil action going which would allow us to take some action here [in British Columbia.]
And it developed to the point where this individual that Majcher knew, came over to Canada.
I don't know whether it was just about this business. But I don't think so. He had other business, I'm sure. And I took him to a prominent civil litigator downtown [Vancouver].
I'll leave that [lawyer] unnamed.
And we met. This individual who's a Hong Kong citizen, myself and the lawyer. And we gave them some direction as to how we need to pursue this.
Which was to get a judgment in China, which would allow a judgment hopefully to be registered in Canada. It didn't go anywhere. And it kind of fizzled. This is back around 2018.
And it didn't come to my attention again, until recently. When I, the whistleblower, seemed to get onto the radar of Canadian law enforcement.
Right. This is a very current and very fascinating file that through various means, I have received information from people that know Bill Majcher.
So before getting into your book Cunning Edge, and how you've dealt with some names, like Boris Birshtein, or a case down in Bolivia that tracks back to the Rizzuto crime family and a couple of deaths in Canada. Just fascinating stuff. But before getting into your book, I’ll ask you this.
You are now in contact with national security units, as I know other former police officers are, because of your interactions with Bill Majcher.
And the concern from some in Canadian police and intelligence is that people such as yourself, who I know to be a very diligent investigator, may have been used in some ways, by as you say, the Public Security Bureaus or individuals connected to China's Fox Hunt, [run by] the Ministry of Public Security.
Is that accurate?
Well, that's my understanding. That subsequent to 2018 when I had the dealings through Majcher and his friend with apparently, the Public Security Bureau, there has been a lot of noise in that area. I don't think I was used because we didn't do anything.
Maybe they [Chinese police] were probing to see what options they had on pursuing individuals here.
I have to say that this Chinese National I've been describing, you and I know very well, seemed to have leverage.
And I was always curious as to why nobody wants to pursue him, because of all of his assets here. He was somehow being protected.