Alberta judge throws out Karlheinz Schreiber lawsuit against federal government

EDMONTON — An Alberta court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Karlheinz Schreiber in 1997 in which the German-Canadian businessman alleged he had been defamed by the Attorney General of Canada.

In the lawsuit, Schreiber says details of a letter sent by Canada to the Government of Switzerland seeking his banking information as part of an RCMP investigation were published in the media in 1995 and made public by Brian Mulroney at a news conference.

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Schreiber also sued the federal government for negligence, abuse of process and abuse of public office.

He claimed for losses including denigration of his reputation and loss of economic opportunity and income associated with the loss of his liberty and livelihood.

In 1995, RCMP accused Schreiber and another man of sending kickbacks to Mulroney on the sale of Airbus planes to Air Canada which was a Crown Corporation at the time.

Schreiber, who is now 85, was extradited to Germany in 2009 after testifying before the House of Common's ethics committee.

In 2013, he became involved in a corruption scandal linked to former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 6.5 years in prison.

In 2017, Schreiber sought to resume his legal action but Ottawa argued that more than eight years had passed since the last meaningful action on the lawsuit.

In Edmonton, Queen's Bench master Lucille Birkett ruled that Schreiber waited too long to resume his legal action and threw out the lawsuit.

"Schreiber’s allegation that Canada engaged in tactics that caused the delay in this action by its decision to extradite him to Germany is unfounded," Birkett wrote in a ruling released Thursday.

"Schreiber bears the ultimate responsibility for advancing this action.

"As more than 3 years have passed without a significant advance, and on the application of Canada to dismiss the action for long delay pursuant to Rule 4.33, the Court must dismiss the action brought by Schreiber."

The ruling noted that Schreiber fought the extradition request from Germany for five years before he was committed for extradition and for a further five years in appealing the committal unsuccessfully to the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court. (CTV Edmonton, The Canadian Press)

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Birkett was a Queen's Bench justice and that Schreiber was extradited after testifying at the Senate's ethics committee.

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