This man has a double identity. His company earns millions from public contracts

A private security company that has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in public contracts is run by a man with dual identities, and the company’s questionable business practices have made him the target of an investigation, according to Radio-Canada Investigation program learned.

Over the past decade, Neptune has won public contracts across Canada, including with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Sûreté du Québec, Quebec’s provincial police. It has also ensured the security of several courthouses in Quebec, carried out construction work on military bases and has road contracts with the Ontario Ministry of Transport.

In an email, the Public Procurement Authority (AMP), the agency that oversees public contracts in Quebec, confirmed it was investigating the company.

Sources with knowledge of the security firm’s operations describe Robert Butler as the head of the firm. Butler denies this.

“I’m not the boss of Neptune. I don’t manage Neptune, either directly or indirectly,” Butler said. Investigation during a telephone conversation.

Instead, he claims to work for Neptune’s construction wing and that the organization is “very big, very big”.

This contradicts what he told the Superior Court of Quebec in 2019 and 2020, when he testified under oath and said he was the CEO of Neptune.

Neptune has had several legal battles over the past few years, including with the City of Montreal and the City of Quebec.

“I take care of company business in different parts of the world,” Butler told the judge, answering questions from his lawyer.

In 2019, Henry Jenkins, a former Neptune security guard, received an unexpected phone call.

At the time, he was looking for a few hundred dollars that he believed the company owed him. He said the caller introduced himself as Robert Butler and said he was the owner of Neptune.

“He wasn’t happy. He was offended. He started yelling at me,” Jenkins said.

“He told me that he would use all of his company’s financial resources to clean me up financially, and that [the process] could last 10 years if he wanted to.”

Robert Butler’s name does not appear on the company’s website. It is also not included in any of the official company documents.

Robert Butler admitted to using the name Badreddine Ahmadoun. (Radio-Canada)

While trying to figure out Neptune’s organizational structure and figure out who was running things, Investigation confirmed that Butler also has a second name: Badreddine Ahmadoun.

This is the name he uses when he runs a real estate agency called Land/Max. Land/Max and Neptune are headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario.

Martine Valois, lawyer and professor at the University of Montreal, affirms that “presenting oneself as someone else or under two identities is a fraud”.

“He is the one acting on behalf of the company. He cannot, at the same time, be a different person with other functions,” Valois said.

“I find that very worrying, very worrying given the nature of the services rendered.”

“Working in the shadows”

Investigation used a hidden camera to record two encounters with the man shrouded in mystery.

In both cases, Radio-Canada collaborators showed up at his office and presented themselves as potential clients. At a meeting, he introduced himself as Robert Butler. In the other, he said his name was Badreddine Ahmadoun.

At the Neptune meeting, Butler bragged about the company’s public contracts, including work for the Department of National Defense (DND). He also said Neptune had “top secret” security clearances.

“We have permits for firearms and the transfer of detainees,” he said, adding that the company prefers “to work in the shadows.”

During the telephone conversation with Radio-Canada, which took place after the secretly recorded meetings, Butler admitted to using the name Badreddine Ahmadoune.

“The name I work with is Robert Butler. I have documents that have been altered [to that effect]“, he said, although he declined to provide evidence.

When asked what his real name was, his answer was firm.

“It’s not your problem which one is real and which one isn’t,” he said. “I can choose any name.”

Radio-Canada sources say Butler would refer to himself as the president, owner or chief operating officer of Neptune.

“But his name never appeared anywhere. He never wanted to sign a contract,” said a former Neptune employee. “He does everything, everything, everything. He has his hand on everything.”

Radio-Canada has agreed to hide the identity of the employee because they fear reprisals.

In a recent phone call to Neptune’s office in Quebec, an employee called Butler a “big boss.”

There is a shopping center.
Neptune’s official address is a mailbox in a UPS store located inside a strip mall, which is a violation of Canada Business Corporations Act. (Gaetan Pouliot/Radio-Canada)

Questionable practices and lost contracts

The former Neptune employee describes Robert Butler as a man who “has his own rule book”.

“He thought he was above all laws,” the employee said. “Whether it was employment records, labor standards or whatever, he didn’t care.”

In recent years, Neptune has had issues with its staff and customers, and some of these issues have caused it to lose contracts.

In 2016, Neptune lost a contract in the Montreal borough of Verdun due to overbilling.

“Afterwards, we asked ourselves: ‘How could we give contracts to a company like this? Should we have been more careful?’ declared Jean-François Parenteau, the former mayor of the borough.

“But it was the lowest bidder. They were accredited. They were compliant. So we had to [to give them the contract].”

Radio-Canada recently learned that Neptune had lost a $42 million contract with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to provide surveillance at an immigration detention center in Laval, Quebec.

Lack of equipment, personnel and training were among the reasons for the breakdown of the agreement which was signed last summer. According to the CBSA, these problems could have compromised the safety of migrants in a detention centre.

A man speaks at a press conference.
Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel has written a letter to the provincial agency that regulates the private security industry, asking it to look into Neptune in light of Inquiry’s reports. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Investigation almost complete, decision imminent

The Government of Quebec created the Public Procurement Authority (AMP) in 2017.

This was in direct response to one of the main recommendations of the Charbonneau commission, which was charged with investigating corruption in the province’s construction industry.

“THE Public Procurement Authority has the power to examine not only the corporate structure of a company that wants to obtain public contracts, but all of the companies and people connected to it,” said Valois, a law professor.

“If Mr. Butler, who also has a dual identity, is behind Neptune when he cannot be found on the provincial business register, neither as a director nor as a shareholder, then that is where we can deceive the Public Procurement Authority.”

If authorities determine that Neptune has made false statements or is failing to meet government integrity requirements, the private security firm could lose its right to bid on government contracts.

The AMP told Radio-Canada that its investigation into Neptune is almost complete.

“A decision will be made shortly,” the agency wrote.

On Thursday, Quebec’s Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, sent a letter to the Private Security Office (BSP), which regulates the province’s private security industry and licenses companies like Neptune.

In the letter, obtained by Radio-Canada, the minister writes that the reports of Investigation reveals “several doubts related to the integrity of the governance of the Neptune organization”.

“As this company holds a permit issued by the Private Security Office and its delivery is subject to compliance with strict conditions, I request that verifications concerning this company be carried out quickly and, if necessary, appropriate follow-ups be carried out in compliance with the Private Security Act.”

A woman poses for a photo.
We see Hanane Outair here in a photo published in a magazine in July 2011. This is the only photo of her that Radio-Canada has found. (Real Estate Review (REM))

The Invisible Owner

On paper, Hanane Outair is listed as the sole owner and administrator of Neptune.

However, during his testimony in court, Butler said he reports to her as CEO of the company once or twice a year.

Outair has a home in the Toronto area, not far from Neptune’s offices. Investigation stopped by her house but was told she was away.

Sources say Butler forged his signature on company documents.

“I never signed the name Hanane Outair,” Butler said, though he acknowledged the woman was an ex-partner. “You are talking about my personal life here.

The butler said Investigation not to contact her. Outair declined to be interviewed for this story.

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