The doctrine of undue influence is frequently employed to attack gifts. However, can the doctrine of equitable fraud apply when the requirements of undue influence are not otherwise met? That is the subject of this blog.
On January 5, 2017 Ontario’s Court of Appeal came out with a decision which is of great interest to those dealing with limitation periods, the responsibility of trustees to creditors, and the defence of fraudulent concealment.
In the words of the Court of Appeal at paragraph 34, "those funds should be the subject of a constructive trust in favour of DSLC Capital Corp. in order to prevent the unjust enrichment of Credifinance Securities Limited." But, this is the end of the story. Let’s start at the beginning. DSLC Capital Corp. (DSLC) sought to invest in Credifinance Securities Limited (Credifinance) thinking that it was a member in good standing with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). DSLC’s plan was to become a part owner of Credifinance so that DSLC could sell securities and other investments to its existing network of investors. Based on representations of the principal of Credifinance, DSLC loaned Credifinance $400,000 and, by share subscription agreement, proceeded to purchase a minority ownership interest in Credifinance.
In this column I write mostly about estate or commercial disputes. But given my recent unsuccessful attempts to defang a financial predator, I am taking this opportunity to alert people to fraudsters seeking to take advantage of the unsuspecting. There are people who pretend to be lawyers and use the Internet to scam the naïve and inexperienced. Others pretend to be clients and use unsuspecting lawyers as pawns in fraudulent schemes. These financial predators promise money or business opportunity.
Gregory Sidlofsky of our office represented a company that was deceived into loaning money to a company called Credifinance Securities Limited. After we were able to tie up part of the proceeds of the loan, Credifinance declared bankruptcy. In our efforts to recover what remained of the loan, we argued that a constructive trust ought to be imposed on $310,500 in the fraudster’s account that could be traced to the loan. The purpose of the constructive trust was to prevent the unjust enrichment of the bankrupt estate. This case went to Ontario’s Court of Appeal and a review of that decision is helpful to those facing a similar dilemma.