September 23, 2022

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A Calgary man who remains in hospital after being shot alongside his wife who was fatally injured, was out on bail awaiting trial on organized crime charges alongside his brother and sister, according to court records obtained by CBC News. 

Nakita Baron, 31, and her husband, Talal Fouani, 46, were shot in their Bentley as it pulled out of their driveway on Aug. 18. The vehicle ended up in a neighbour’s driveway across from the victims’ home in the southwest community of Evergreen.

Baron was declared dead at the scene while Fouani was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition. 

He is currently considered “stable” but is on a ventilator, according to Calgary police.

Police are investigating a shooting in the southwest community of Evergreen on Aug. 18 that left one woman dead and one man with life-threatening injuries. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC)

As police work to identify the suspect, CBC News has learned officers are pursuing investigative avenues including Fouani’s dealings with the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC), his criminal past and his current charges before the courts.

CBC News requested an interview, or statement from the Fouanis, but lawyer Yoav Niv declined on the family’s behalf. 

Instead, he issued a brief statement that his clients — Niv represents two of the three siblings facing criminal charges — “are presumed innocent and have pleaded not guilty to the charges.”

According to websites connected to the Fouani brothers, Talal is involved in Fouani Investments, a private funding, consulting and management company, as well as another company which describes his work as a venture capitalist and investor.

Accused of washing drug money 

In June, Fouani and two siblings were arrested on charges related to money laundering.

Fouani faces charges including participation in the activities of a criminal organization, money laundering, and possession of stolen property over $5,000 for offences which are alleged to have taken place between July 2020 and December 2021.

The three siblings were released on bail with a number of conditions attached to their freedom.

According to the wording of the charge as it appears on court documents, Fouani is accused of laundering money obtained through drug trafficking in both Calgary and Halifax.

Of the 23 people Fouani is banned from having contact with, 10 are men and women who have faced drug trafficking charges in recent years following cocaine busts in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

One of those people is Ricco King, who has faced several sets of charges including an arrest in connection with an international cocaine trafficking ring in 2016.

Talal Fouani, left, is in hospital after a shooting that left his wife, Nakita, dead. (Instagram/Nakita Baron)

King and three others, including his father William King, were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Two of the men arrested as part of the same organized crime investigation faced first-degree murder charges, accused of gunning down alleged drug dealers.

But in 2019, the four men saw their charges stayed after a judge ruled it took too long for the case to get to trial.

Aside from the no-contact order, Fouani was also prohibited from possessing drugs, weapons and he had to surrender his passport.

The trial is set to take place in September 2023.

Between 1996 and 2007, Fouani was convicted of assault with a weapon, threats and theft over $5,000.

Fouani testifies against former friend

More recently, he was connected to a “pump and dump” scam which involves artificially inflating a stock in order to sell the cheaply purchased stock at a higher price.

In 2020, Fouani testified against his former friend and business associate Cem (Jim) Can at an Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) hearing. 

At that hearing, Fouani gave what the commission described as a “behind the scenes” look at BluForest which had promised to be a major player in the sale of carbon offsets through reforestation in Ecuador, where it claimed to be heading major climate change mitigation projects.

Although Fouani “accompanied Can to various Bluforest-related meetings in Belize and Panama,” the ASC wrote in its 2020 decision that he also “sought to minimize his involvement.”

In August 2020, the ASC ruled Can and his business partner, Charles Miller, had breached Alberta securities law and issued sanctions against the two men, permanently banning them from securities trading in Alberta and issuing fines of $2.3 million for Can and $350,000 for Miller.

Can was arrested in 2003, along with two Hells Angels associates, accused of extortion and kidnapping related to a stock deal gone bad. The charges were later dropped because of concerns about the reliability of the alleged victim.

Calgary police shared this image they gathered from CCTV footage of a man they say is a suspect in a shooting on Aug. 18 in Evergreen. (Submitted by Calgary Police Service)

The Calgary Police Service has said last week’s shooting does not appear to be random.

CPS has released photos of a 25- to 35-year-old suspect, captured on nearby security cameras, who is believed to have shot at the couple before taking off in a Mitsubishi Eclipse SUV. 

At the time, he was wearing a hard hat, black hood, as well as an orange and yellow reflective shirt. He also had a small white dog with him.

In May, Baron posted an acceptance letter from the University of Calgary, describing her goals of becoming a doctor.

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