Caledon woman arrested for fraud in Mexico
According to a Toronto Star report today a Caledon woman has been arrested for fraud in Mexico which the family believes the incident stems from a 2005 business deal involving the woman’s high-tech security firm.
Paulina Zelitsky, 64, of Caledon was detained Monday without a warrant in Mexico City, moments after stepping off an airplane, said her Mexican lawyer, Roberto Garcia. Reached in Mexico City by telephone Wednesday night, Garcia told the Star that five police officers were waiting for Zelitsky at Mexico City International Airport. They whisked her into custody and she was held at a district attorney’s office until Tuesday.
She is now being held at a Mexico City prison called Santa Martha Acatitla, which houses about 2,000 inmates, Garcia said. Zelitsky is facing fraud charges and awaiting trial. Garcia said the charges against his client are unwarranted and her arrest was executed outside of the law.
“Yes, this is irregular, it is not common,” Garcia said. “This is not how it works in Mexican regulation but this is what happened.”
Garcia explained that according to Mexican law, an arrest without a warrant can only be made under two scenarios: if someone is caught in the act of committing a crime, or if there has been proof of caso urgente, or “urgent case.”
According to her family members, Zelitsky was flying to Mexico City on a business trip on Monday. She is the managing director of a Mexican-based company called Integrated Control Systems, which provides high-tech security solutions to government and industries. Also according to her husband and business partner, Paul Weinzweig, his wife’s arrest was orchestrated by Mexican businessmen who believe ICS owes them money.
A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs said Wednesday night the ministry is “investigating reports of a Canadian who was arrested in Mexico City, Mexico.”
“The Canadian mission in Mexico City is in contact with local authorities to gather additional information, and is providing consular assistance as required,” said Alain Cacchione in an email.
Zelitsky’s husband is the son of renowned composer and Order of Canada officer John Weinzweig. Zelitsky has worked extensively as an oceanographer and in 2000, she led a team of deep-ocean explorers that discovered underwater stone formations near Cuba, believed by some to be a lost city.
Both Garcia and the family believe Zelitsky’s legal imbroglio stems from a business deal that occurred four years ago.
Under the deal, a politically connected businessman named Jorge Martinez and his three brothers were to invest $1 million U.S. in ICS in return for shares of the company.
But allegedly, the Martinez brothers only invested three-quarters of the promised amount and were never awarded the shares, said Zelitsky’s son Edward Tapanes, who worked with his mother at ICS at the time.
In 2007, the Martinez brothers filed a civil suit against Zelitsky but that was never resolved due to lack of evidence, Tapanes said.
Zelitsky wound up leaving Mexico in 2008 soon after an attempt was made on her life. According to Mexican news reports, Zelitsky was the victim of a failed kidnapping attempt in the municipality of Cunduacán, after an “armed commando” fired three shots at her chauffeured vehicle.
Her family said the incident left her shaken and she only decided to fly back this Monday because she felt enough time had passed.
Garcia explained that the Martinez brothers had actually filed a criminal complaint against Zelitsky in August, which was used to secure her arrest. They purport that Zelitsky evaded arrest by leaving Mexico in November 2008, an argument that holds no water considering she wasn’t charged until 10 months later, Garcia said.
Zelitsky’s family believes officials have been bribed to secure her arrest. The Martinez brothers come from a politically connected and wealthy family. Tapanes, who was able to reach his mother on Tuesday, said the Martinez brothers approached Zelitsky after her arrest and said they could arrange for her immediate release if she paid them a sum of money.