© AgMedia Inc.
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Efforts to retrieve his business records while fighting personal bankruptcy proceedings took an unexpected twist for Arlan Galbraith.
Ontario’s former, self-appointed pigeon king and his legal counsel had to go to court to obtain copies of the records from the Waterloo Police Service’s fraud squad.
The squad and the RCMP are conducting a criminal investigation of Galbraith’s former, Waterloo-based pigeon breeding scheme. The scheme collapsed in June 2008, leaving hundreds of pigeon breeders on both sides of the border with thousands of worthless birds and debts of nearly $39 million.
The records included bank and financial information from Galbraith’s former businesses Pigeon King International, Sacred Dove Ranch and Ben Contracting, personal business records as well as records relating to seven former breeders and pigeon barn operators.
Sgt. Robert Zensner, spokesman for the fraud branch, says police could not release the records without court approval because they were obtained with a search warrant from PKI’s trustee, BDO Dunwoody.
“We can’t really make the decision to give the records to anybody,” says Zensner. “The court has to order those records to be given.”
Court documents show that Galbraith’s lawyer, Waterloo-based Steven Gadbois, won court approval to obtain copies of the records on Dec. 1 from an Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener.
The London Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Bankruptcy and Insolvency subsequently approved the application on Dec. 2.
“Unfortunately Madam Justice Woolcott (in the Kitchener court) did not have jurisdiction necessary to allow for copies to be made of the production,” states the notice of motion to have the application heard in London.
The records were being requested because Galbraith had not kept copies after handing business records over to BDO Dunwoody, the notice says. BDO Dunwoody did not keep copies after turning the records over to police.
“In order to address the positions take (sic) by the Creditors, the debtor/moving party needs access to his records, which were formerly in possession of BDO Dunwoody and now are in the possession of Her Majesty,” the notice states.
However, on Dec. 11, Galbraith decided not to contest the bankruptcy proceedings. The London court declared him personally bankrupt on Wednesday.
Police still have the original records and Zensner says the criminal investigation is ongoing.
Asked why the investigation is taking so long, Zensner responds: “We have to do a thorough and comprehensive investigation and (given) the amount of documents that are there, it’s a laborious task.”
He estimates there are more than 50,000 PKI business documents that have to be reviewed. BF