Living/Working

June 14, 2019

Production company suing former Man in the High Castle accountant who allegedly absconded to Mexico with boyfriend after embezzling more than $900,000

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Reunion MITHC 2 Productions Inc., the production company behind Amazon's Vancouver-shot series The Man in the High Castle, is suing a former assistant accountant, his numbered company and two of his romantic partners, claiming he absconded to Mexico after misappropriating more than $900,000 over two seasons of the show.

Reunion filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on June 7, naming former employee Marc Borja, 0992734 B.C. Ltd., Erik Hers and Harry Sutherland as defendants. According to the claim, Borja, 53, worked on seasons 3 and 4 of the alternate-history series based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name. The production company claims Borja’s position gave him full access to Reunion’s bank and GST accounts, as well as its accounting programs. Borja completed his last day of work on May 17, 2019, according to the lawsuit.

“After his departure, the plaintiff discovered that Borja had concocted an elaborate fraud, in which he issued fraudulent cheques from the plaintiff to his own numbered company, and to two individuals believed to be his romantic partners,” according to an application in the file. “There is no business reason for the numbered company to have received any funds from the plaintiff. Further, all of the cheques appear to be forged.”

In June 2017, during production of the show’s third season, Borja allegedly began secretly issuing cheques to his numbered company, Hers and Sutherland for tens of thousands of dollars without Reunion’s authorization. During Season 4, Borja allegedly issued 22 fraudulent cheques among his co-defendants totalling more than $705,000.

“Borja went to great lengths to avoid detection, by manipulating the information that could be viewed in the plaintiff’s accounting systems about the payments he was making,” the application states.

Reunion claims suspicion arose among accounting staff when they discovered “suspicious vendor reports” from two companies, and noticed that Borja had “suddenly” deactivated his Facebook account. The employee “started piecing together the pieces of the puzzle” that made up Borja’s alleged fraud, noting that a physical copy of the numbered company’s vendor account was non-existent and recalling that Borja said he was closing the company due to onerous paperwork involved, having received his Season 3 salary through it, but not his Season 4 wages.

The cheques issued to Sutherland and Borja’s company were deposited  at the Terminal Avenue branch of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, while Hers deposited his at a New Westminster CIBC branch, according to the claim.

In total, the defendants allegedly made off with $912,665. Borja and Sutherland are believed to be in Mexico, while Hers’ location remains unknown. Reunion seeks an injunction freezing the defendants’ assets and damages for fraud, breach of trust, breach of contract, and conversion. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and none of the defendants had responded to the lawsuit by press time.

 
Leading

Trudeau and Fearsome Five star in Resource Fist Fight: The Sequel

The West is out.

Again.

The federal-provincial narrative of pre-election politics is on.

Again.

As it heads into an election, Justin Trudeau’s suddenly trailing government is in the process of passing heavy-handed, rule-laden, jurisdiction-intruding legislation of how Canada reviews its infrastructure proposals, the much-maligned Bill C-69.

Environmentalists quite correctly rejoice, but investors quite correctly will think longer and harder about coming here, while businesses quite correctly worry we will be saying no more than yes when developing resources at the heart of the economy. Where and near where we live are most affected and bound to become most disaffected.

Politically written off.

Again.

A letter in the last week from six premiers – five of them conservatives – castigates the C-69 overreach and another law, Bill C-48, to ban oil tankers from northern waters, legislation that formalizes recent practice.

Trudeau had options to keep his cool but demonstrated a certain inherited imperiousness by losing his shoo and incredulously accusing the premiers of savaging national unity. They barked back that he started it, and there we are with the scripted standoff heading into October’s general vote.

To be fair and restrained about the political moment, this was the first occasion for the five conservative first ministers to put joint pen to paper, a first self-serving flag-waving of many in the months ahead. Andrew Scheer might be the leader of the official Opposition, but the premiers are the political equivalent of a football Fearsome Five that Trudeau must navigate to get across the goal line.

Jason Kenney of Alberta, Scott Moe of Saskatchewan, Brian Pallister of Manitoba, Doug Ford of Ontario and Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick – along with a less conservative-leaning Bob Macleod of the Northwest Territories – are in a funk for good reason. They may be over the mountain, but they are not over the top.

These two bills jar the federal-provincial dynamic and at best will help the constitutional lawyers put their grandchildren through medical school. Even if we might disagree with the premiers’ objections, we ought to worry about the thin edge of this wedge the federal government appears to be widening.

The Senate is typically what is fair to call the taskless thanks of Canadian politics, but the Conservative-led committee that proposed hundreds of amendments to Bill C-69 was more right than wrong in its prescription. It was off base to suggest the infrastructure reviews be granted discretion to dodge Indigenous consultation – this is the new normal – but it was on point to suggest the new review agency have profound powers of independence.

As for Bill C-48, it seems incongruent with Trudeau’s bent to enable the same-styled traffic within a golf shot of B.C. cities. No matter. The Senate appears ready to pass it, even if one of its committees says it shouldn’t.

We want our projects to be ultra-safe, to mitigate risk to our marine life, to employ the best technology to minimize the environmental footprint and ideally to have the concurrence of our First Nations or to work through an acceptable settlement. Believe it or not, so do the premiers who signed the letter.

What they don’t comprehend is how we now will play our hand early as the projects are initiated, how we will lay down the cards and lose to other, less savoury players. This is like a negotiation in which you reveal your books and say you will withstand a certain settlement to put you beyond the brink.

The tag-team premiers will not always be right, but they know that we will not move to a greener economy without the most lucrative segue from the lingering messy one. We will not prosper globally if we cannot ship that messy goo abroad and fetch the highest price for it to invest in the new energy forms. On this matter, Trudeau agrees with them in calling the pipeline twinning a national priority. He has also supported the LNG Canada megaproject.

But his law might make it the last gasp of energy infrastructure. 

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, at Glacier Media

 
Trending

BC NDP housing policies destroying British Columbians’ wealth

Never in history has B.C. lost so much wealth so quickly – and intentionally.

A year and a half ago, British Columbians awoke to a startling announcement from their government: the BC NDP said it would enact whatever initiatives were required to reduce home prices.

This was a revolutionary statement. For the first time in history, a government in Canada announced that its policy was to proactively reduce the wealth of the majority of its constituents.

Approximately 70% of British Columbians own a home, and the majority work hard to slowly pay down large mortgages. These homeowners are careful and prudent families who are working to build an asset over time.  

A year and a half ago, seven in 10 British Columbians found themselves confronted by a government that was actively, and openly, trying to make them poorer. It is worth looking at what this policy has achieved.

It cannot be denied that it has been wildly successful. Recent reports are that $90 billion has been lost in home value in Metro Vancouver over the past year alone. That is equal to roughly 65% of Metro Vancouver’s $137 billion GDP. It represents approximately $40,000 for every resident of Metro Vancouver, almost matching average annual salaries.

Behind this success is the fact that no rational person would make an investment into an asset where it is the government’s stated policy to make that asset worth less. Some observers point to other drivers of B.C.’s housing correction, especially the federal government’s tightening of mortgage lending rules.

 However, the Greater Toronto Area has absorbed the federal changes, and the market there remains healthy.

The key ingredient in B.C. is that there is no reason to believe the market will recover as long as it is the government’s policy to ensure that it does not.

The real estate development and construction industries – which account for more than 20% of B.C.’s economy – are facing a significant downturn as a result.

An MLA Canada advisory on April 2019 pre-sale real estate insights stated that approximately 5,000 concrete units within 17 development projects have been postponed. Housing starts are down by at least 20%.

Further project cancellations are announced weekly. Billions in investment has already been lost, with job losses and associated decline in economic activity to follow.

One is hard pressed to find the winners of this NDP policy. Despite the massive wealth destruction and economic damage, few millennials are now celebrating that they can finally afford a home, nor would it make sense for any of them to buy a home as long as it is their government’s stated policy to destroy the savings they invest.

What else could British Columbians have done with the $90 billion destroyed in Metro Vancouver so far? Few homeowners will tell you they had excess wealth and had no plans or eventual use for the equity in their homes.

Collectively, British Columbians could have put the money to good use. For example, there is a lot of concern over the escalating cost of managing the growing number of wildfires scorching B.C.

The wildfire budget was increased this year by 58% to $101 million. With the $90 billion, British Columbians had the wealth to pay this bill for the next 891 years.

Or perhaps the money could have in part been directed to those actually in need of housing assistance. The NDP recently announced it would build 4,900 new rental homes for $492 million as part of the Building BC: Community Housing Fund – a cost of $100,000 per unit.

For $90 billion, we could have built enough of these units to house the entire population of Edmonton. 

For the believers in the policy, the argument is that its benefits have yet to be realized because it has not gone far enough. With patience and perseverance, they believe, we can eventually destroy enough of our own wealth to be free of this problem.

Norm Streu is the president and chief operating officer of LMS Reinforcing Steel Group.

 
Spending

Rotating Vancouver shipping container to offer tacos, donuts, facials and more this summer

Vancouver House

From doughnuts to tacos, fresh juice to meat-and-cheese boards, the Vancouver House Summer Pop-up Series offers a range of delectable eats and drinks.

What’s more, the annual festival, which runs all summer long, will offer a Ride Cycle Club pop-up, as well as locally-made swimwear by Beth Richards.

Located in the West Plaza of Shaw Tower at 1067 W. Cordova Street, the summer series hopes to showcase new and local vendors in unique collaborations, offering select products and services. The fun kicked off on Monday, June 10 with a mouth-watering selection of treats by Dipped Doughnuts and will switch to Flourgirl Baking on Sunday, June 16.

The festival runs until Saturday, September 21.

2019 vendors include:

  • Dipped Doughnuts
  • Flourgirl Baking
  • Beth Richards
  • Tacofino
  • The Juice Truck
  • Ride Cycle Club
  • Sayhello Sweets
  • MerCuterie
  • FIG Facial
  • House Concepts
  • Madebymister

Set to be complete in 2019, the Beach district at Vancouver House hopes, “To bring the streetscape under and around the Granville Bridge to life,” and become a new food and beverage destination in the city. Developer Westbank will install five shipping containers at the site which will host rotating retailers, brands and concepts throughout the year.

Vancouver House Summer Pop-up Series 

When: June 10 – Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Where: Shaw Tower, West Plaza, 1067 W. Cordova St., Vancouver
Cost: Varies on vendor prices.

View the calendar for participating vendors here.

Vancouver is Awesome

 
Spending

This Burnaby pizzeria celebrates 50 years of ooey-gooey goodness

This photograph shows Me-n-Ed’s Pizza Parlour in around 1970 – not too long after the pizza shop opened in 1969. The pizzeria is celebrating its 50th birthday this month | Photo: Submitted

Me-n-Ed’s Pizza Parlour has been around a long time – half a century to be exact.

It’s seen old jukeboxes come and go, housed its fair share of sing-alongs, withstood the test of eliminating smoking sections and hosted personalities ranging from local TV sports host Squire Barnes to actor Michael J. Fox.

“If you grew up in Burnaby and played sports, you probably had a soccer or hockey or some kind of [team] wind up in our back room,” owner Melody Hewitt said.

The Burnaby pizzeria is celebrating its 50th birthday next week, and it’s inviting regular customers, family and friends to join in.

Melody and Nathan Hewitt have several plans for June and July to recognize their customer base, who they say helped keep the restaurant going for half a century in the same location through the good times and the bad.

“When times are good and the economy is flourishing, it’s easy to keep a restaurant in business. To be able to sustain our business for 50 years, through the ups and downs in our community, we’re very proud,” she said in a news release.

“We hope we’ve brought value to the Lower Mainland with the product we sell and the fantastic people we’ve been able to employ.”

The actual opening day was June 21, 1969, but the party is being planned for June 18 this year.

“We’re having a couple of seatings where we’re giving away free food and free drinks, and we just want to say thank you to the community for supporting us for so long,” Hewitt said.

The event will be held at the Burnaby location at 7110 Hall Avenue from 5 to 8 p.m.

Burnaby Now

 
Exploring

What are we reading? June 13, 2019

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Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

Kirk LaPointe, editor-in-chief:

The field of Democratic candidates for president has grown to 23. This political writer wonders: Do any of them have a clue about what they’re doing? – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/12/magazine/democratic-primary-candidates-iowa-caucus.html

 

Parents, be happy: The clothes you bought your teens are being resold by them online and helping them gain social media influence. – The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/06/depop-live-selling-clothes-influencers/591595/

 

Doris Burke is the NBA’s best television analyst. Players trust her questions and provide her the most sincere answers. – The New Yorker

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/in-praise-of-doris-burke-basketballs-best-tv-analyst

 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Interested in the rapidly expanding size of the human footprint in urban settlements worldwide and what is getting stepped on in that expansion? The European Space Agency has got it mapped using radar and optical satellite imagery.

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Mapping_our_global_human_footprint

 

China's debt problem will be the world's debt problem sooner than later, as will the slowdown in the country's economy. The growth of its private companies, which are major contributors to China's GDP, has stalled along with their access to bank credit. – Petersen Institute for International Economics

https://piie.com/blogs/china-economic-watch/chinas-private-firms-continue-struggle

 

Graphene to the rescue in the race to improve energy storage. – IDTechEx

https://www.idtechex.com/en/research-report/graphene-2d-materials-and-carbon-nanotubes-markets-technologies-and-opportunities-2019-2029/669

 

Glen Korstrom, reporter:

Here’s a humourous piece that discusses rampant caffeine use in society in a way similar to how many articles discuss cannabis and other drug use. – Filter Magazine

http://filtermag.org/2019/06/10/if-we-wrote-about-caffeine-like-we-do-other-drugs/

 

If only more Metro Vancouver transit stations were like New Westminster’s Plaza 88 development. It’s amazing to me that there is not more retail immediately adjacent other stations. Christopher Cheung does a good job here exploring the evolution of the station and how it is different from others. – The Tyee

https://thetyee.ca/Culture/2019/06/10/New-Westminster-Plaza-88-Transit-Development/

 

Donald Trump could win in 2020 by doing what he appears to be doing: using a campaign strategy that worked for Obama, says a former Obama campaign operative. – The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/trump-could-win-2020-heres-what-democrats-can-do/591265/

 

It’s always interesting to see Vancouver through an outsider’s lens, and that’s the case here with this examination of the city. – NPR

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/05/726531803/vancouver-has-been-transformed-by-chinese-immigrants