Wanted philanthropist arrested in Toronto

Nathan Jacobson

TORONTO — Nathan Jacobson, a Winnipeg-born Jewish Canadian businessman who was known for his philanthropy and commitment to Jewish and Israeli causes, was arrested Oct. 25 at his home in Toronto.

Along with 17 others, Jacobson, now 58, who has dual Canadian-Israeli citizenship, was charged in 2006 by a U.S. grand jury in San Diego with 313 counts related to Affpower, an Internet pharmacy based in Costa Rica that dispensed drugs to Americans without legal prescriptions from 2004 to 2006.

He was originally charged with several counts of fraud, money laundering and the distribution and dispensing of controlled substances, but he co-operated with authorities and pleaded guilty in 2008 to laundering the $46 million in drug payments.

He was expected to serve a four-year sentence, but a San Diego District Court judge issued a warrant for Jacobson’s arrest after he failed to show up for a sentencing hearing this past summer.

He was denied bail after his arrest last week after a Canadian judge reportedly certified an international warrant issued for a flight risk. His next court appearance was slated to be Oct. 31.

In the four years since his guilty plea, Jacobson has remained active in the Jewish community. Among other positions, he has been chair of the Canadian branch of Nefesh B’Nefesh and has served on the boards of Tel Aviv University, the Tel Aviv Foundation, and the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee. He has also been honorary co-chair of a Canadian Friends of Hebrew University gala dinner.

In 2010, he was honoured at the annual Y sports dinner in Winnipeg for his commitment to the Jewish community.