Fraud, breach of trust charges dropped against former Baffin Fisheries Coalition CEO

·3 min read
Baffin Fisheries' MV Sivulliq. The Inuit-owned coalition has offices in Paradise, N.L., and Nunavut.  (BFC - image credit)
Baffin Fisheries' MV Sivulliq. The Inuit-owned coalition has offices in Paradise, N.L., and Nunavut. (BFC - image credit)

Charges against the former CEO of the Baffin Fisheries Coalition who was accused of defrauding the company he once led have been dropped.

Garth Reid, 52, was charged in March 2021 with fraud over $5,000 and criminal breach of trust, stemming from his time as the company's leader between October 2016 and April 2017.

Lloyd Strickland, director of public prosecutions in Newfoundland and Labrador, confirmed in an email to CBC News Thursday that the charges were withdrawn and, as a result, proceedings were terminated.

"A comprehensive review was conducted by the Crown attorney and upon receiving further information from the RNC, it was determined that there was no longer a reasonable likelihood of a conviction," Strickland wrote.

Strickland did not provide further details on the decision in the case, citing sensitive commercial interests involved.

He added "the corporation is free to seek redress in a civil court, where the burden of proof is not beyond a reasonable doubt but on a balance of probabilities."

Bruce Tilley/CBC
Bruce Tilley/CBC

In the fall of 2017, Baffin Fisheries terminated Reid and sued him in civil court for $1.4 million, alleging that he built on his private property in Winterton, N.L. and billed the company for the work.

In a statement of defence, Reid denied the allegations against him and said if any payments were made by Baffin Fisheries for his own property, he didn't know about it and they were done out of negligence by the company. He counter sued for $20 million over breach of contract and defamation.

Supreme Court Justice Vikas Khaladkar ruled in December 2019 that Reid unlawfully converted company funds for his own personal use. He ordered the CEO to repay $544,049 plus interest.

Baffin Fisheries indicated the matter would continue against Reid and his wife to recover the remaining $855,983 related to Reid's property.

Current CEO Chris Flanagan said he and the shareholders in the Inuit-owned company, which has offices in Paradise, N.L., and Nunavut, are disappointed in the Crown's decision.

"It's really astounding that they couldn't pursue this case to court," Flanagan said.

Flanagan questions if enough resources were put on the fraud case.

Ariana Kelland/CBC
Ariana Kelland/CBC

In an email, a spokesperson for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said the case was "fully investigated by the RNC."

"I did get a call from the Crown and they suggested perhaps that there was a possibility that the CEO was going to pay the money back, which to me just doesn't hold any water and to our shareholders," Flanagan said in an interview Friday.

"The Crown stated that there could have been a shadow of a doubt that this could have been a loan."

Flanagan said he was notified this week that the civil trial is scheduled to begin in June 2023, about five and half years after the complaint was made.

According to its website, Baffin Fisheries is jointly owned by five Hunters and Trappers Associations in the Qikiqtani Region of Nunavut: Pangnirtung, Amaruq (Iqaluit), Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Mayukalik (Kimmirut), and Namautalik (Clyde River).

The company owns and operates two factory freezer trawlers and one factory freezer gillnetter.

In an email to CBC News, Reid said he is withholding comment until the civil matters are concluded, at which time he will do an interview with his lawyers present.

Read more by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting