The results of an RCMP investigation into Len Barrie’s financial dealings with his former Bear Mountain golf resort and real-estate development were recently turned over to the B.C. Attorney general’s office, according to two sources.
Barrie is also facing a civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia for $2.2-million from the Bellagio, an upscale casino and hotel in Las Vegas. The claim was filed Dec. 16, 2011, three months after the Bellagio was awarded a judgment by a Nevada court for more than $2-million (U.S.), which it was unable to collect from the former NHL player. No statement of defence could be found in the B.C. court’s records.
In its statement of claim, the Bellagio says Barrie was given $1.5-million through 11 credit instruments in May of 2008. That was one month before Barrie bought a 35-per-cent share of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the late summer of 2009, Barrie was accused by a member of Bear Mountain’s executive committee of improperly taking between $16-million and $20-million out of the company to help pay for his share of the Lightning.
Barrie admitted he used some money from Bear Mountain for the hockey club but denied any wrong-doing. However, he was later forced out of Bear Mountain as well as the Lightning, as financial problems engulfed both organizations.
The RCMP’s commercial-crime unit on Vancouver Island started an investigation of Barrie almost a year ago as the result of a complaint filed by Sean Burke, another former NHL player. Burke is one of 18 current and former NHL players who lost a total of more than $13-million when Bear Mountain went into bankruptcy.
The sources said the RCMP officers in charge of the case turned their information over to the crown attorney in late December. The crown’s office is to decide if any criminal charges will be laid against Barrie.
A spokesman for the RCMP said in an e-mail message that “this file remains under active investigation” and did not provide any further details. No one from the Attorney General’s office could be immediately reached for comment. Barrie did not respond to a request for comment.
Barrie is also facing numerous other civil actions connected to Bear Mountain along with the criminal investigation. The Canada Revenue Agency is in the picture as well. Bear Mountain Projects, a company Barrie controlled that is connected to the parent company of Bear Mountain, was charged under the Income Tax Act for not filing tax returns for 2008 and 2009.
Bear Mountain was taken over by its biggest creditor, HSBC Canada, in the fall of 2010. By then, the development owed more than $300-million to its creditors.
According to the civil complaint filed by the Bellagio, on May 16, 2008, Barrie received $1.5-million (U.S.) at 18-per-cent interest from the casino, which was backed up by his account at HSBC Canada in Vancouver. However, HSBC Canada later refused to pay the money to the casino.
Barrie did make a payment of $420,000 (U.S.) directly to the Bellagio. But on March 4, 2011, the casino filed a claim with a Nevada court seeking the unpaid balance of $1.08-million plus interest, costs and lawyers’ fees. Six months later, the court awarded the $2.1-million (U.S.) judgment against Barrie but the Bellagio was still unable to collect and decided to chase Barrie through the B.C. court.
With a report from Patrick Brethour in Vancouver