Nathan Reiber retired to Florida in the 1970s carrying more baggage than a suitcase.
The Canadian lawyer would come to be hailed for his philanthropy, rubbing elbows with celebrities and world leaders, and donating time and money to charitable causes. His South Florida building career was described as a happy accident, a case of a shrewd retiree spotting a property and launching the second act of his business career.
But by the time Reiber was building the Champlain Towers in Surfside in the 1980s, he was facing tax evasion charges in Ontario stemming from siphoning coin laundry money from his apartment buildings there. A warrant was issued.
Reiber’s background and the history of the towers has come under scrutiny since more than half of Champlain Towers South at 8777 Collins Ave. collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24. Search and rescue teams have confirmed 22 deaths with 126 people still unaccounted for as of Friday night.
Canada Revenue Agency, a government arm similar to the IRS, sent an investigator to Miami to find out whether Reiber’s Canadian real estate company had run afoul of tax law when it bought a Florida yacht. Looking at that transaction in 1999, a Canadian tax hearing officer determined it was legal, but “professionally and ethically bereft.” Ultimately, Reiber was allowed to surrender his law license in that country, according to Canadian Law Society Tribunal records.
The legal troubles were at odds with Reiber’s reputation in…