‘This is a business proposition’: Crown releases Cameron Ortis’s emails to an RCMP target

When Cameron Ortis approached the head of a company that was being probed by law enforcement, he told him that he had access to some highly “valuable” information and mentioned a “business proposition.”

“You do not know me. I have information that I am confident you will find very valuable,” Ortis wrote in an email to Vincent Ramos, the Canadian CEO of Phantom Secure.

“I assure you that this is a business proposition. Nothing more. It is not risk free, of course, but the risk to reward ratio will prove to be more than acceptable.”

That email and others are part of an astonishing tranche of documents that make up the agreed statement of facts between the Crown and the defence in Ortis’s criminal trial.

The former RCMP intelligence official faces six charges, including four counts of violating the Security of Information Act.

Ortis has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. His defence told reporters they believe they can prove he had the “authority to do everything he did.”

According to the evidence presented to court so far, the RCMP was investigating information about Phantom Secure as part of an operation dubbed Project Saturation. Court has heard the RCMP believed Phantom Secure was providing encrypted phones at a price. The FBI arrested Ramos in Las Vegas in 2018.

Under the email handle ‘See All Things,’ Ortis reached out to Ramos on Feb. 5, 2015, letting him know he had information about a multi-agency investigation targeting Phantom Secure.

“The files detail this effort, intel about your associates and individuals using your network internationally,” Ortis wrote.

At the time, Ortis was the director of operations research within RCMP National Security. He was later promoted to director general of the National Intelligence Coordination Centre in 2016.

Ortis urged Ramos to set up a secure email account and to contact him for more information.

Ortis said he had info on associate

Ramos responded, asking for more details.

“I am in the business of acquiring hard-to-get information that individuals in unique high-risk businesses find valuable. I sell that information to them,” Ortis replied.

He said he didn’t work for government or a law enforcement agency but had “unique visibility” on Ramos’s clients.

“Through the course of my normal discovery ops (some call this hacking, others cracking) I came across a number of documents that pertain to your current efforts,” Ortis wrote.

When Ramos failed to loop back, Ortis sent another email on March 21 suggesting he had information about Kapil Judge, Phantom Secure’s technical manager.

“I thought I would check in and touch base. Did Judge arrive on the 8th as planned?” he wrote.

“Let me guess, he met someone ‘friendly’ while being secondaried by CBSA at the airport?”

Accused was asking for $20K

Ramos wrote to Ortis that he was “a bit intrigued for sure” and promised to set up a secure account.

Ortis followed up in late April, sending what he called embargoed documents about Canadian and international police agencies’ intelligence on Phantom Secure.

Ortis wrote he was redacting most of the documents, “leaving enough remaining to allow you to assess whether or not you would be interested in acquiring the unembargoed full documents.”

The documents included reports from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), a criminal intelligence assessment by the RCMP and a document summarizing other western intelligence and law enforcement information on the company.

That apparently convinced Ramos to set up a secure email account on Tutanota, an encrypted email service.

In a subsequent email, Ortis asked for $20,000 in exchange for the unredacted documents.

But Ramos still had questions about how to interpret the documents and the identity of the person sending them to him. “Who are you??” he wrote.

“Having knowledge of what your adversary knows is a key step, I would think, in keeping PS going and growing,” Ortis replied.

“For example, the FINTRAC intelligence would help you and your folks to explain transactions in advance. It will also allow you to avoid making the same mistakes. You will be able to see which transactions have ‘blinked’ on their radars and, more importantly, which have not.”

Ramos’s arrest alerted RCMP to Ortis

Ortis also told Ramos that police knew Phantom Secure’s “most sensitive communication components were transiting through Canada, Panama, Japan and Hong Kong.”

“It appears that Canadian police have gone down to Panama to take a look at your network equipment,” he wrote.

Ortis wrote that he was hoping this first deal would be the start of a strong business relationship.

“Unfortunately, I must remain anonymous,” he wrote.

Cameron Ortis, a former RCMP intelligence director accused of disclosing classified information, sits and listens to jury selection in his trial at the Ottawa courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (Sketch by Lauren Foster-MacLeod)

Ramos is serving a nine-year prison sentence in the U.S. for racketeering conspiracy. His arrest kicked off the investigation into Ortis, leading up to the RCMP official’s arrest in 2019.

Ortis, 51, is accused of three counts of sharing special operational information “intentionally and without authority” and one count of attempting to share special operational information. He also faces two Criminal Code charges: breach of trust and unauthorized use of a computer.

The jury will hear Wednesday from retired Staff. Sgt. Guy  Belley, who worked on Project Saturation.

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