by BETTER FARMING STAFF
A Québec couple has filed a complaint with federal authorities over a trustee’s handling of the bankruptcy of a Québec producer.
But the federal Office of the Superintendant of Bankruptcy (OSB) will not comment on whether it has received other complaints concerning the financially troubled Les Elevages B & F Boulay. The company, owned by brothers Bruno and François Boulay, has filed for court protection from creditors, which include Ontario pork producing companies.
“This is considered a matter of private information to the complainant,” explains Lauren Ehrenworth, spokesperson for Industry Canada spokesperson. The office of the superintendent of bankruptcy is an agency.
The office has not issued an investigation order against the trustee and there has been no change to the March 17 date set for the company to present its settlement proposal for creditors in court, Ehrenworth wrote in recent e-mails.
She explains that normally a complaint is reviewed and verified to determine if it is founded and what actions need to be taken. “If, further to its own review and investigation, the OSB comes to the conclusion that there are grounds for a criminal investigation, the OSB may issue an investigation order to the RCMP.”
Even if an investigation is ordered it would not alter the legal process that is already set in motion, Ehrenworth says: “In the matter of Les Elevages B & F Boulay (Saint-Césaire, Québec), a proposal was accepted by the creditors and the next step would be for the Court to review the proposal. The Court may or may not approve the proposal.”
Jacinthe Frisch says she and her husband, Claude, filed a complaint March 1. The couple claim the distressed company owes them $110,000.
Frisch says the company’s trustee, Benoit Fontaine of Raymond Chabot Inc., did not provide verified numbers at the first creditors meeting, which took place in February, and had nominated five people as inspectors before the meeting took place. Inspectors are appointed as representatives of all creditors. According to the Superintendent of Bankruptcy’s handbook for inspectors, they must be appointed at the first meeting of creditors.
“It was a farce; it was ridiculous,” Frisch says.
Benoit Fontaine could not be reached for comment. Public documents about the Boulay bankruptcy were removed from Raymond Chabot Inc.’s website in late February.
Frisch also says that the Boulay brothers had approached other creditors with offers to encourage them to vote for the proposed settlement.
“That’s why so many people voted yes,” she says of the more than 84 per cent of the 120 unsecured creditors who accepted the deal. Many of these creditors are owed $500 or less, she adds. The terms of the proposal mean those who are owed less money will be repaid a greater proportion of what they are owed than those owed more.
“I have been requested to stay at the ‘no comment’ for now,” writes company representative Pierre Troalain in a March 7 e-mail.
Ontario companies owed money include Maximum Swine Marketing Ltd. of Mount Brydges, GreenField Ethanol Inc., Stonehouse Farms (also listed as 2059520 Ontario Limited) of Lucan and Birnam Pork of Watford.
London lawyer Paul Downs, whose firm is representing three of the Ontario creditors, would not comment. BF