A lawsuit launched by two companies linked to Wei Wai Kum Nation says former employees at the Discovery Harbour Marina misappropriated funds, diverted money towards a local construction firm and falsified documents for fake EI claims.
Weiwaikum General Partner Ltd. and CRIBCO Limited Partnership, which own and operate the marina, filed the civil claim with the BC Supreme Court on June 10.
The defendants have denied the allegations, except for one who hasn’t filed a response in court and couldn’t be reached for comment. The allegations haven’t been tested in court.
Former marina employees Louise Wells, Dean Drake and Victoria Lagos are accused of using company credit cards for thousands of dollars in personal expenses and allowing CRIBCO to reimburse the costs as business expenses. They deny the allegations in responses filed in court July 5.
Lagos went on medical leave for breast cancer in 2017 and was “purportedly terminated for theft and misappropriation by CRIBCO” in June 2019 while she was still on leave, according to a defence response filed in court by Lagos.
Drake and Wells were also terminated in 2019 and 2018 respectively, according to their court filings. All three say there was no legal cause for their firings.
The three former employees say there was nothing improper about their transactions, and that expenses listed in the lawsuit were legitimate, including hospitality and gifts for employees and customers.
Also named in the lawsuit is Tara Henderson, who is accused of facilitating the alleged misconduct.
Lagos dismissed Henderson when she was allegedly caught “pocketing payments from customers and allowing them to park vessels at the Marina, without any record being retained by CRIBCO,” according to Lagos’ defence response.
Henderson hadn’t filed a response in court as of Aug. 29 and couldn’t be reached for comment.
James Lagos, Victoria Lagos’ husband, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, along with J.M. Lagos Construction (JMLC), his construction firm.
Upwards of $155,000 in vendor expenses “bear no relation to ordinary business operations of CRIBCO and the Marina,” with many charges apparently benefiting James Lagos or JMLC, according to the lawsuit.
James Lagos and JMLC deny any wrongdoing in a response filed in court July 5.
The lawsuit says that JMLC accounting and payroll summaries and other files were found on CRIBCO workstations, and that Wells and Victoria Lagos used company property for the benefit of JMLC, including during working hours.
The lawsuit states that Drake and Henderson helped with the alleged scheme.
Victoria Lagos, Wells and Henderson served as directors and shareholders of the construction firm, according to James Lagos and JMLC’s defense response, which says the relationships were well-known to the CRIBCO board of directors.
Victoria Lagos, Wells and Drake deny any wrongdoing related to the construction firm in their filings.
Wells, Drake and Victoria Lagos allegedly “participated in a scheme of falsifying CRIBCO records, including Records of Employment, apparently in order to appear eligible for Employment Insurance benefits as if they were seasonal employees,” the lawsuit claims.
James Lagos also took part in the alleged scheme to make false EI claims, but he was never a CRIBCO employee, according to the lawsuit, which accuses Victoria Lagos and Wells of preparing false papers for James Lagos. Wells, Drake, Victoria and James Lagos and JMLC deny the allegations.
The Campbell River RCMP confirmed that there is an investigation being conducted by their office. Campbell River RCMP spokesperson Const. Maury Tyre said in an email that “no further information will be released due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.”
No court hearings are currently scheduled.