NEWS

Resident warned of condo fraud years ago

09/16/2011 07:07 EDT | Updated 11/16/2011 05:12 EST

Don Snider's battle to recover funds allegedly misappropriated from his Mississauga condominium began more than four years ago — and there's still no end in sight.

"I'm really disgusted with the legal system," said Snider. "Everybody who's a victim is a victim over and over and over again. And the criminals just walk away and laugh."

The resident of 3025 The Credit Woodlands says he first went to Peel Regional Police in early 2007, handing them a pile of documents that he alleges show wrongdoing by Channel Property Management.

Channel Property and its owner, Manzoor Moorshed Khan, currently face at least three civil lawsuits plus a criminal investigation by Toronto police's fraud unit.

Snider says he believes he was the first person to alert officials about alleged troubles with the company, but four years later his case is still on hold with police, and his condo board has spent about $60,000 on court fees since filing a civil lawsuit.

A $1.5-million lawsuit filed by the condominium board in 2008 naming Khan, his company and the board of directors lists a slew of allegations: contract documents forged, kickbacks taken and signatures falsified. In a statement of defence, Khan's lawyers denied the allegations. Khan could not be reached for further comment and is believed to have left the country.

Two lawsuits filed against Khan and his company total nearly $5 million and were launched by condominium corporations representing 25 Grenville St. and 326 Albion Rd. One involves fraud that echoes Snider's case, while the other involves an uncommon type of loan fraud. Since news broke, other condos have begun to uncover similar problems in their buildings.

At 25 Grenville, a 250-unit building called The Gallery, lawyers sent a letter to residents expressing frustration with how Toronto police have handled the case.

It states that Channel Property Management was not terminated until Aug. 18 in hopes it would give Toronto police the time to "apprehend the perpetrators of the fraud."

"Unfortunately, and surprisingly, the Toronto Police Service have not taken a serious, let alone immediate interest in this matter," says the letter sent by Fine & Deo lawyers on Aug. 23, 2011, to unit owners.

Toronto police refuted the allegation, saying they are taking the case seriously but need time to properly look into the case.

"We need to investigate and do a prudent job," says Det. Rudy Martin, the lead investigator on the case. "We need the facts. And our facts are different from civil court. We have to prove something beyond reasonable doubt."

Trinity-Spadina NDP MPP Rosario Marchese says the larger problem is lack of protection for condominium owners. Marchese has unsuccessfully tried to pass three different bills aiming to change Ontario's Condominium Act.

"There are no protections," said Marchese. "The only right they have is to go to the court system to defend themselves but it’s a very expensive process."

Marchese says he's fielded a number of complaints from condo owners, which is no surprise considering the intense condo development in Toronto.

The MPP is calling for the creation of a tribunal where condo owners can solve a problem quickly and with less expense that through the courts.

Snider, however, says he's been advised of an easier solution.

"Everybody said sell your unit and get out of condos," said Snider. "They've all said that. Don't buy a condo because the Condo Act just doesn't do anything."

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