Monday, 27 May 2019
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Mystery shrouds death of Canadian billionaire couple

Mystery shrouds death of Canadian billionaire couple

TORONTO: Mystery has shrouded the unexplained deaths of an enormously wealthy Canadian couple, who gave away much of their fortune from a generic drug business.

The bodies of the couple, Barry and Honey Sherman, were found Friday inside their mansion in an upscale neighbourhood of northern Toronto.

Mystery Death of Canadian billionaire couple

Aside from describing the deaths as “suspicious,” police in Toronto offered little information. Brandon Price, a homicide detective, told reporters that investigators were not “currently seeking a suspect,” a statement he said had been made to “alleviate some of the concerns in the neighborhood.”

Two Canadian newspapers reported that police were investigating the deaths as a possible murder-suicide, citing unidentified police sources.

Toronto Sun reported that investigators were working on the theory that Barry Sherman, 75, killed his wife, and then himself.

“We are shocked and think it’s irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true,” said the statement, which was attributed to the family of Barry and Honey Sherman.

“We urge the Toronto Police Service to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation, and urge the media to refrain from further reporting as to the cause of these tragic deaths until the investigation is completed,” it said.

Emergency workers were summoned shortly before noon Friday to the couple’s mansion in response to a 911 call, which Canadian news outlets said had been placed by a real estate agent.

Mystery shrouds death Canadian billionaire couple

The Shermans had recently listed the property for sale at nearly 7 million Canadian dollars, or about $5.4 million.

Apotex, the company Barry Sherman founded, confirmed the couple’s identity in a statement. Barry Sherman, 75, was chairman of the drug maker.

Sherman used litigation and pressure on governments to open up the market for generic drugs, turning Apotex into a business with annual sales of more than 2 billion Canadian dollars. Canadian Business magazine estimated his personal wealth at 4.7 billion Canadian dollars.

He also was embroiled in a long-running legal dispute with a group of his cousins, who sought about $1 billion in a lawsuit brought in 2006. The complaint, which was based on Barry Sherman’s relationship with an uncle in an earlier drug company, was finally rejected in September by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

In addition to donating to many charities in the Toronto area, Barry Sherman was a prominent backer of the Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


“We are shocked and think it’s irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true,” said the statement, which was attributed to the family of Barry and Honey Sherman.

“We urge the Toronto Police Service to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation, and urge the media to refrain from further reporting as to the cause of these tragic deaths until the investigation is completed,” it said.

Emergency workers were summoned shortly before noon Friday to the couple’s mansion in response to a 911 call, which Canadian news outlets said had been placed by a real estate agent.

The Shermans had recently listed the property for sale at nearly 7 million Canadian dollars, or about $5.4 million.

Apotex, the company Barry Sherman founded, confirmed the couple’s identity in a statement. Barry Sherman, 75, was chairman of the drug maker.

Sherman used litigation and pressure on governments to open up the market for generic drugs, turning Apotex into a business with annual sales of more than 2 billion Canadian dollars. Canadian Business magazine estimated his personal wealth at 4.7 billion Canadian dollars.

He also was embroiled in a long-running legal dispute with a group of his cousins, who sought about $1 billion in a lawsuit brought in 2006. The complaint, which was based on Barry Sherman’s relationship with an uncle in an earlier drug company, was finally rejected in September by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

In addition to donating to many charities in the Toronto area, Barry Sherman was a prominent backer of the Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said in statement he was “shocked and heartbroken” to learn of the deaths, noting that the couple had made extensive contributions to the city.

“Toronto Police are investigating, and I hope that investigation will be able to provide answers for all of us who are mourning this tremendous loss,” Tory said.

This year, Karen Shepherd, the federal lobbying commissioner, said she was investigating the propriety of Barry Sherman’s hosting of a Liberal Party fundraiser in 2015 that featured Trudeau, who was not yet prime minister. Because Sherman was registered as a lobbyist at the time, some political opponents and a political ethics group charged that the event violated federal lobbying rules.

Apotex had asked a court to end the investigation, calling it an “unanchored fishing expedition.”

Mr Trudeau was among many prominent Canadians who expressed sadness over the couple’s death.

“Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

Linda Frum, a Conservative member of Canada’s Senate, described Honey Sherman on Twitter as “one of the kindest and most beloved members of Canada’s Jewish community.”

“Today I am gutted by the loss of Honey and Barry Sherman,” she added. “Our community is steeped in grief.”

Many of Barry Sherman’s financial contributions went to branches of the United Way. Apotex regularly donated substantial quantities of drugs to groups providing medical care in underdeveloped countries and crisis areas.

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