Good money flushed down the toilet 
“Whoever is detected in a shameful fraud is ever after not believed
even if they speak the truth.

In 2009, when the owners at The Minto Plaza, a downtown Toronto condo at 38 Elm Street, were informed that the condo was in litigation involving the common elements and there was no information coming from the board, they knew something wasn't right.

Two of them, Judy Sue and William Stratas went to the courthouse and read the court application and found that a supplier disappeared with a $142,278.65 cheque that was suppose to pay for water-efficient toilets.

At the upcoming AGM, the two of them were elected to the board. Judy, who is a CPA and CGA, was appointed treasurer and William became the president.

They felt that the board's trust in their property manager was misplaced but first they wanted to determine exactly what transpired over the last few years.

Especially designed fish tanks
for today's small condominiums.
It took Judy nine months to finish her audit.

She conducted a forensic examination of every transaction in the condo’s expense records over a three-year period. She was successful in obtaining an ex parte court order for disclosure of transactions in five relevant bank accounts that showed anomalies in credit card expenses, petty cash expenses and payroll expenses allegedly committed by Christine Maitland, their property manager.

The toilet project
In early 2007 the corporation decided to purchase water-efficient toilets to reduce their water bills and to take advantage of the City of Toronto's subsidies.

The manager recommended that the board purchase the toilets from AGG Alliance Contracting Group, a company operated by Gregory Chatzisavvas. He could give them a great price if the board paid for toilets in total upfront. He would store them in his warehouse until they were installed. (A service he promised to provide at a reasonable additional price.)

Christine Maitland urged the board to select this supplier and on 12 July 2007 Helen Kennerney, the Regional Property Manager and the condo president signed a cheque for $142,276.65. Once he got the cheque, Mr. Chatzisavvas was never seen again. Neither was the toilets or the condo's money.

The losses
As a result of Judy's audit, the condo corporation alleged that their property manager used their credit cards, petty cash and cheques drawn on their operating account in order to purchase goods and services for her own benefit, including renovation materials for her house. The total amount that they claimed was stolen by the manager in this manner was $28,591.53.

Then there was an overpayment that the manager made to an employee for $4,942.37. Finally there was $130,738.52 in excess water charges that would not have been incurred if the new water-efficient toilets had been installed as promised (these losses would not have been uncovered had Judy not conducted her extensive audit).

The condo corporation sued the manager, her regional property manager and Brookfield Residential services, their ACMO 2000 accredited property management company.

The condo claimed that the manager stole money from the condo corporation while in a position of trust and confidence and the regional manager should have caught it.

The property management company refused to indemnify the condo in spite of the alleged extreme betrayal of trust and negligence that took place, despite its clear liability in contract, tort and fiduciary duly to do so and the gist of the management agreement which is that all risks and responsibilities associated with the management of the property was theirs.

The condo also claimed that the two managers conduct was high-handed, callous, and shocking to the conscience, and these two defendants should be deterred from such conduct in the future by an award of punitive or exemplary damages.

The settlement
In 2010, after a two year struggle, the condo corporation achieved successful recovery and settlement of the legal claim.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice  CV-09-390024

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