Canadian billionaire and wife found dead in 'suspicious' case

  • 17/12/2017

Canadian police are investigating the mysterious deaths of pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman, founder of Apotex Inc, and his wife Honey, whose bodies were found in their Toronto mansion.

Post-mortem examinations would be conducted on Saturday and authorities are treating the deaths as suspicious, a Toronto Police spokesman said.

No suspects had been identified, said police, who have issued few details about the circumstances of the deaths that have shaken people in Canada's political, business and philanthropic circles.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extended his condolences "to their family and friends, and to everyone touched by their vision and spirit".

Mr Sherman, 75, was a prominent donor to Canada's ruling Liberal Party, drawing on a fortune that Forbes estimated at US$3.2 billion (NZ$4.5 billion).

Canadian advocacy group Democracy Watch criticised Mr Sherman last year for involvement in a fundraiser for the Liberals while registered as a government lobbyist.

Mr Sherman was involved in a series of lawsuits, including a decade-long battle with cousins seeking compensation over allegations he cut them out of the company that would make him rich.

Police found out about the Shermans' deaths at about midday on Friday while responding to an emergency call.

Authorities have not said who made the call, though Canadian media reported the couple's bodies were found by a real estate agent helping them sell their home, which was on the market for C$6.9 million (NZ$7.6 million).

Mr Sherman founded generic drugmaker Apotex in 1974, then built it into one of the world's largest pharmaceutical makers. It has annual sales of more than C$2 billion (NZ$2.2 billion) in more than 45 countries, according to its website.

He stepped down as CEO in 2012, but stayed on as chairman.

The Shermans, who had four children, were major donors to hospitals, universities and Jewish organisations.

Ms Sherman sat on the boards of several hospitals, charitable and Jewish foundations, and last month was awarded a Senate medal for community service.

She immigrated to Canada as a child when Jewish Immigrant Aid Services relocated her family shortly after the Holocaust, according to a profile of the couple on the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto's website.