British Columbia Court of Appeal Upholds Bankruptcy Ruling, $19 Million Fine

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For the second time in a year, British Columbia’s highest court has dismissed the appeal of a couple trying to use bankruptcy to get rid of millions of dollars in penalties imposed by the health regulator. provincial financial markets.

Thalbinder Singh Poonian and Shailu Poonian owe the BC Securities Commission a combined $19 million for market manipulation that a commission panel found they committed.

The total includes $13.5 million in administrative penalties and $5.5 million in “restitution of their ill-gotten gains”, according to a statement from the BCSC.

In November, the British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the couple in which they argued that the captain who handled their bankruptcy discharge application made various mistakes in deciding not to discharge them from their debt to of the BCSC.

That appeal was dismissed, with the trio of appellate judges agreeing that there was “no merit in any of the grounds of appeal identified by the appellants”.

The couple filed their most recent appeal against a B.C. Supreme Court order that said their BCSC debts could not be discharged through the bankruptcy process.

In a ruling issued earlier this monththe appeals court again rejected the couple’s arguments.

This time, the Poonians argued that the Supreme Court judge erred in relying on an Alberta court decision that was later overturned by that province’s court of appeal.

Although the British Columbia appellate judges found that the Supreme Court judge erred in this regard, they concluded that the lower court’s decision was still correct. The couple’s debts “result from obtaining goods or services under false pretenses or fraudulent misrepresentations,” and are therefore valid exceptions to the list of debts that can be discharged through bankruptcy, the judges wrote. appeal in their decision.

The BCSC sanctioned the Poonians in 2015 for manipulating the share price of OSE Corp., an Ontario company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. The market manipulation took place between 2007 and 2009.

“The panel found that the Poonians inflated the stock price by trading among themselves, relatives, friends and acquaintances, and then illegally obtained approximately $7 million by selling shares of OSE to unsuspecting buyers,” the BCSC said in its statement.

So far, the Poonians haven’t paid any part of the $19 million they owe the BCSC. Any portion of the $5.5 million restitution recovered will be returned to investors, the commission said.

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