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Breaking Fraud Cases from Canadian Courts
At Canadian Fraud News, we report on decisions issued by Canadian Courts related to fraud, that are not reported in the main stream media, and that contain legal issues the Canadian public and fraud recovery experts should be aware of. The following is one such story.
On September 11, 2017, the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto released its decision in in a criminal case for purchasing stolen property. They found Rupen Balaram-Sivaram, an unlicensed paralegal, guilty of two counts of attempted fraud.
The Crown’s Allegation
The Crown alleged that Mr. Balaram-Sivaram knowingly engaged in a fraudulent scheme in which he collaborated with another person to cash two cheques that were stolen. In the alternative he was willfully blind to the fact.
Mr. Balaram-Sivaram maintains that he did not know that the cheques were stolen. Further, he was not involved in a fraudulent scheme regarding the cheques. In addition, there were no circumstances that would allow his behaviour to be characterized as having been willfully blind.
Agreed Statement of Facts
Mr. Balaram-Sivaram is the sole Director of Sirius Legal Services Inc. As of April 11, 2011, the Law Society of Upper Canada revoked Mr. Balaram-Sivaram’s licence to provide legal services as a paralegal in Ontario.
Mr. Balaram-Sivaram, however, continued to operate his company under the name “Sirius Legal Services”. Mr. Balaram-Sivaram told an immigration consultant that he could manage lawyers’ trust accounts.
On October 24 and 26, 2016, Rupen Balaram-Sivaram attended the Bank of Montreal branch located at 242 Bloor Street West in Toronto and deposited cheques into the trust account for Sirius Legal Services Inc.
The affidavits of ownership of the cheques establish that the Ministry of Finances of the Government of Quebec and a private company in Ontario issued cheques for services rendered to two different recipients. Neither intended recipient received the cheques. Instead, a person that is unknown to the parties tried to cash the cheques.
Mr. Balaram-Sivaram testified that his legal training is self-taught, that he used to be a licensed paralegal, that Sirius Legal Services Inc. is his company, and that he does immigration work,
traffic tickets, collection work, superior court and small claims court matters. He testified that he also has studied accounting.
Between August and October 2016, Mr. Balaram-Sivaram spoke with some persons regarding managing accounts for lawyers and real estate agents. In his testimony he named one lawyer and one real estate agent with whom he spoke.
On August 26, 2016, Mr. Balaram-Sivaram went to the bank to open a trust account for these purposes. He told the bank that he had a legal services corporation. Mr. Balaram-Sivaram filled out the documents that the bank required to open a trust account. He told them that he would be handling funds in trust for lawyers and real estate agents.
In September 2016, a Mr. Vallipuarum Thasauarathan retained Mr. Balaram-Sivaram to help him get legal representation. On September 27, 2016, Mr. Thasauarathan signed an agreement with Mr. Balaram-Sivaram.
Mr. Thasauarathan later delivered cheques to Mr. Balaram-Sivaram by courier. The cheques were not from Mr. Thasauarathan, however. Regardless of this issue, Mr. Balaram-Sivaram took the cheques to the bank, endorsed them and deposited them. He asked that the bank hold the cheques for five days. He has not heard from Mr. Thasauarathan ever since.
Mr. Balaram-Sivaram later went to the bank to complain about not being able to access online banking the police came and arrested him.
Position of the Crown and Defence
Mr. Balaram-Sivaram denied that he was involved in a scheme to deposit stolen cheques and convert them into cash later. He was not attempting to defraud the bank. Nor did he know that the cheques were stolen. He never attempted to withdraw the money or deal with it in any way.
The Crown argues that Rupen Balaram-Sivaram is not credible. The Crown submits that no one is as naive as Mr. Balaram-Sivaram is making himself out to be. He is an intelligent person who used to be a paralegal and has an education in accounting. The only reasonable conclusion is that Mr. Balaram-Sivaram was a knowing participant in a fraudulent scheme.
The Crown further submitted that if he did not know directly that the cheques were stolen, he was willfully blind to the fact.
Justice Bovard ruled that although Mr. Balaram-Sivaram’s business plan to manage trust funds for lawyers and real estate agents was pie in the sky, he am left in reasonable doubt that he knew that the cheques were stolen, or that he planned with Mr. Thasauarathan to traffic in stolen cheques.
Justice Bovard reasoned that Mr. Balaram-Sivaram opened the trust account before he met Mr. Thasauarathan. That means that he did not even know Mr. Thasauarathan when he opened the trust account. This raises a doubt in my mind that he opened the account in order to deal with stolen cheques received from a person that he did not yet know.
Justice Bovard held that there is no evidence that Mr. Balaram-Sivaram concocted an illegal scheme and then opened the trust account to wait for prospective partners in crime to present themselves.
With regard to willful blindness, Justice Bovard agree with the defence that there was nothing in the circumstances that would have required further investigation by Mr. Balaram-Sivaram.
Justice Bovard concluded that he had a reasonable doubt that Mr. Balaram-Sivaram was guilty of attempted fraud.
Breach of Recognizance
Mr. Balaram-Sivaram was also charged with breach of recognizance, as he was serving a conditional sentence for prior criminal convictions at the time he passing the bad cheques.
Justice Bovard held that Rupen Balaram-Sivaram can claim the protection of the exception to the house arrest condition that allows him to be out of his residence for the purpose of work. He was in the business of managing trust funds for lawyers and real estate agents.
Prior Press Releases
On February 6, 2015, the Toronto Sun reported that Rupen Balaram-Sivaram had been charged with allegedly threatening to kill an assortment of government, military and police officials in Ontario. For further information, see http://www.torontosun.com/2015/02/06/toronto-man-accused-of-threatening-hundreds.
Find last week’s breaking news release here.
For further information on this case, or any other fraud recovery inquiry, contact Canadian Fraud News Inc. at Devin@Canadianfraudnews.com .