Local Filipino companies hit by Forfeiture Court Actions in BC Supreme Court

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The BC Director of Civil Forfeiture filed a notice of Civil Claim against defendants CNM Communications Inc. (“CNM”) and Easy Padala Inc. (Easy Padala”), both of Port Moody, BC.  Listed as the directors of CNM Communications Inc. and Easy Padala Inc. are Zeala Cortes and Francisco “Jun” Cortes.  Also named in the court documents is Elan Wellness Group Inc. of the same address as CNM and Easy Padala.

CNM Communications is also in charge of the Management and Operations of Filipino Star Magazine “Vancouver Edition” and is in partnership with a group called Kaplaza Cooperative, which lists Easy Padala, Filipino Star Magazine, Elan and CNM Communications as the 4 members.   

According to Supreme Court documents filed August 30, 2016, an 84 year old, New Jersey, NY, resident named Doris Gray (“Ms. Gray”) was convinced by an unknown male by telephone that she had won a grand prize sweepstakes lottery of $1,500,000.00 USD and needed to make a payment for taxes to receive the grand prize. Ms. Gray transferred a total of $92,500 USD to the account of CNM Communications. A subsequent investigation revealed that at least 5 individuals from the United States made police reports, and/or provided information confirming that they had forwarded money to the CNM USD Account under the belief that they were winners of a “sweepstakes lottery grand Prize”.     

The Port Moody Police Department commenced an investigation (Port Moody Police File #2006-3007) into the allegation that Ms. Gray was defrauded on June 6, 2016. They also obtained a Production Order for the CNM USD account. Allegedly, between April 8, 2016 and June 15, 2016, 25 deposits were made into the CNM USD Account totalling $1,191,377.01 USD (approximately $1,610,920 CAD). Of those deposits, 13 deposits consisted of wire transfers allegedly received from the United States, including Ms. Gray’s, totalling $715,060.50 USD.   

The additional money transfers made by the additional fraud victims to the CNM USD Account were similar in nature to Ms. Gray’s money transfers according to notice of Civil Claim.

The court ordered that the TD bank accounts for CNM and Easy Padala Inc. will be held and not disposed of while the court proceeding are ongoing.  

According to BC court records, there is another case which names Zeala Cortes and Francisco Cortes as the defendants. We will update this file in the future.

FINDINGS OF INVESTIGATION (as alleged on the notice of Civil Claim)

24. The defendants acquired some of all of their financial resources directly or indirectly from the following unlawful activities, including:

a. Fraud contrary to section 380 of the Criminal Code of Canada, RSC 1985, c. C-46 (the Criminal Code”): and

b. Laundering Proceeds of Crime contrary to section 462.31 of the Criminal Code: (collectively, the “Unlawful Activities”).

25. The proceeds of the CNM USD Account, the CNM CAD Account and the Easy Padala USD Account (collectively, the “Accounts”) were acquired as a result of the participation of the defendants and/or others in the Unlawful Activities.  

26. In the alternative, if the defendants were not participants in the Unlawful Activities, they were willfully blind to the use of the Accounts for the purpose of fraud and laundering proceeds of crime, and therefore are not uninvolved interest holders.

27. If the proceeds of the Accounts are not forfeited, the defendants are likely to use these properties to fund or facilitate the Unlawful Activities or similar activities in the future.   

THE RESULT FROM THE COURT

The defendants, CNN Communications and Easy Padala, denied many of the allegations of the Director of Civil Forfeiture in their response to the Civil Claim document. Regardless, on November 14, 2016, a Supreme Court Judge ordered that the funds held at the TD bank accounts in Port Moody belonging to CNM and Easy Padala be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen in right of the Province of British Columbia pursuant to the provisions of the Civil Forfeiture Act, SBC 2005, c. 29 (the “Act”).

Civil Forfeiture Office Purpose

The Civil Forfeiture Act became law in 2006. It targets the proceeds and instruments of unlawful activity. It was created to ensure that people cannot profit from unlawful activity or use property in a way that may harm other persons.

Civil forfeiture is designed to target property, not people. Proceedings are initiated by the director of civil forfeiture against both the profits of alleged unlawful activity and the instruments used to acquire it. Anyone who contests the allegations has the right to examine the director’s evidence and provide their own evidence before a Justice of the Supreme Court of B.C..

SUPREME COURT DOCUMENTS (available at the time of this article)

File #163652

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