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(Bloomberg) — Canadian tycoon Frank Stronach has been charged with rape and other offenses in a sexual assault investigation. 

The 91-year-old founder of auto-parts giant Magna International Inc. was charged on Friday with rape, indecent assault on a female, two counts of sexual assault, and forcible confinement, Peel Regional Police in Ontario said. The allegations date from the 1980s to 2023, according to a statement.

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Stronach has been released with conditions, and will appear at the Ontario Court of Justice at a later date. Police appealed to the public for further information.

Brian Greenspan, a prominent criminal defense lawyer who is representing Stronach, said in a statement that his client “categorically denies the allegations of impropriety which have been brought against him.”

“He looks forward to the opportunity to fully respond to the charges and to maintain his legacy, both as a philanthropist and as an icon of the Canadian business community,” Greenspan said.

Magna’s roots trace back to a one-man tool and die shop Austrian-born Stronach set up in 1957. He ceded control of Magna decades later, in 2010. He’s been a major owner of horse-racing tracks and thoroughbreds, and played a role in Austrian politics.

Family fight 

Stronach settled a bitter legal fight with his daughter, Belinda Stronach, less than four years ago. The pair had waged a lengthy battle over control of their family business, the Stronach Group, a thoroughbred racing and gaming operation that owns some of America’s most famous racetracks. 

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Belinda Stronach claimed in court filings that her father had drained $580 million from the family fortune through a series of often unprofitable projects, while he in turn accused her of lavish spending on the company’s tab and financial mismanagement. The settlement, announced in August, 2020, saw Frank Stronach take full ownership of a thoroughbred stallion and breeding business, including Stronach Stables, and farming operations in Florida, Kentucky and Ontario. He no longer has any interest in Stronach Group. 

Almost a decade earlier, Stronach launched a political campaign in his native Austria, pledging to drop the euro and slash both spending and taxes. He won a seat but his party took less than 6% of the vote in a 2013 election and he quit politics the following year. 

Stronach has had no affiliation with Magna since giving up control in 2010, Tracy Fuerst, a spokesperson for the company said by email. “Magna has no knowledge of the investigation or the allegations that have been raised beyond what has been reported in the media.”

The Stronach Group similarly said in a statement that the businessman “has not held a formal role or been involved with company operations in any capacity for several years.” 

Both Magna and the Stronach Group said they had no further comment with the matter now before the courts.      

Stronach was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 1996 and has recently been writing a weekly column for Canada’s National Post newspaper. The column has been suspended pending the outcome of the charges, the Post’s editor-in-chief Rob Roberts said, according to a story published by the paper. 

(Updates with direct comment from Stronach’s lawyer in fourth paragraph)

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