Newfoundland police have dropped fraud charges against former Baffin Fisheries chief executive officer Garth Reid, but the company is still going forward with its civil suit against him.
Reid faced charges of fraud over $5,000 and criminal breach of trust over the construction of a home in Winterton, N.L., allegedly built with company money.
The charges were dropped on July 4 because there wasn’t a “reasonable likelihood” for conviction, said Lloyd Strickland, a provincial Justice Department director of public prosecutions, in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
Reid, in an emailed statement, said he’s pleased that the charges were dropped.
“As new evidence has come to light, we now look forward to the civil proceedings to follow,” he wrote.
The Inuit-owned company’s current CEO, Chris Flanagan, said he’s “extremely disappointed and embarrassed for the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador for two provincial organizations to make this decision, really, against the Inuit of Nunavut.”
He said he believes Newfoundland’s police didn’t try hard enough in its investigation into the matter.
Board members weren’t contacted by police for interviews until a few weeks before the charges were dropped, which was more than four years after Baffin Fisheries originally filed a complaint with police, according to Flanagan.
“This is an insult to the Inuit beneficiaries of the Baffin region who are the shareholders,” he said.
Newfoundland police did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’s questions about Flanagan’s criticisms of the investigation.
Strickland said he could not share more details about why the Crown decided to drop the charges, citing “sensitive commercial interests [that] are involved.”
Flanagan said he was told the charges were dropped because there’s a possibility that the money could have been a loan — a defence Flanagan doesn’t agree with.
In December 2019, a Supreme Court judge ruled that Reid must pay back $544,049 plus interest and legal costs to Baffin Fisheries after the company launched a lawsuit against Reid two years prior.
Baffin Fisheries is still looking to get possession of the house in Winterton through civil court. The two parties are scheduled to appear in court in June 2023, Flanagan said.
David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News