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Ex-Vancouver mayor's old juice company sues for $570,700 in fraud losses

Gregor Robertson and Randal Ius started Happy Planet in 1994
Former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson | Photo: Dan Toulgoet

The food company co-founded by former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson has filed a fraud suit where it wants CIBC to reveal the name of an alleged fraudulent account holder.

In a notice of civil claim and accompanying application filed in B.C. Supreme Court on July 22, Happy Planet Foods Inc. says it was defrauded of $570,701.

Between May 26 and June 24, a person named as John Doe impersonated themselves as a Ms. Manalstas, an accounting clerk at Richard Milling Ltd., a Happy Planet existing supplier, states the court document.

The claim alleges the impersonator caused the company to redirect payments to a CIBC account. The company said it has traced the funds to that account.

Happy Planet said it received an email from the imposter saying the supplier had switched banks and included a void cheque with a bank transit number and account.

The company made arrangements for payments to the real supplier to be sent to that account.

The claim said Happy Planet became aware it was dealing with an imposter and that the real supplier had not received payments on June 30.

That same day, Happy Planet provided notice to CIBC of the issue and asked for the account transaction records and identity of the account holder.

While that identity has not been released, the account has been frozen, the claim said.

The claim said Happy Planet has been told some of the funds are available for recovery but a court order is needed for that to happen.

The claim seeks restitution of the money, a tracing order to track the funds, an order to CIBC to produce transaction records as well as the names and contact numbers of anyone associated with the account.

Robertson and Randal Ius started Happy Planet in 1994.

Robertson left company day-to-day operations in 2005 after winning the election for the Vancouver-Fraserview MLA seat.

Robertson continued to list Happy Planet on his annual city hall disclosure form, even after winning a second term as mayor in 2011 with Vision Vancouver. News that he had divested himself from the company came on city hall annual financial disclosure statements in January 2013.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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