December 16, 2017 / 3:35 PM / 8 months ago

Canadian police probe mysterious deaths of billionaire pharma couple

TORONTO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - 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 on Friday.

Authorities would conduct post-mortem examinations on Saturday and 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.”

Barry Sherman, 75, was a prominent donor to Canada’s ruling Liberal Party, drawing on a fortune that Forbes estimated at $3.2 billion. Canadian advocacy group Democracy Watch criticized Sherman last year for involvement in a fundraiser for the Liberals while registered as a government lobbyist.

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 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 ($5.4 million).

Barry 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 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 organizations.

Honey Sherman sat on the boards of several hospital, 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.

“Devastating news about the deaths of prominent members of the Toronto Jewish community, philanthropists and great friends of Israel,” Israeli consul general Galit Baram wrote on Twitter Friday.

$1 = 1.2858 Canadian dollars Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Jim Finkle and Grant McCool

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