Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 16, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Bankrupt Nunavut taxi operator faces fraud charges

David Wiseman of Rankin Inlet accused of attempting to defraud insurance company

STEVE DUCHARME
The financial mess that David Wiseman of Rankin Inlet found himself in last year has now moved into criminal court, where the bankrupt taxi company owner faces charges of attempting to defraud the Aviva Canada insurance provider. (FILE PHOTO)
The financial mess that David Wiseman of Rankin Inlet found himself in last year has now moved into criminal court, where the bankrupt taxi company owner faces charges of attempting to defraud the Aviva Canada insurance provider. (FILE PHOTO)

Lawyers will appear Aug. 29 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit to set a preliminary hearing date for a 51-year-old Rankin Inlet taxi operator,

David Wiseman, who recently declared bankruptcy, has been charged with fraud — and, at the same time, Wiseman owes more than $1.2 million in money lent to him by government lending agencies.

The former owner-operator of S & G Taxi Co. in Rankin Inlet, Wiseman faces one count of falsifying documents and one count of using a misleading receipt, stemming from charges laid by the RCMP in May 2015.

Wiseman did not appear in court earlier in August because he is in Winnipeg for medical reasons.

The fraud charges date back to an incident in December 2013, when Wiseman reported a furnace fire within his taxi warehouse to insurance provider Aviva Canada.

According to a July 2015 news release from Aviva Canada, Wiseman claimed over $347,000 in losses from the fire — deemed by investigators to be accidental — along with the rental of heating units to keep his building operational over the winter.

The Crown alleges that Wiseman falsified invoices, in excess of $50,000, to illegally gain funds from Aviva Canada.

Aviva Canada places that figure at approximately $56,000, according to its July 2015 statement.

In its same release, Aviva Canada alleges an independent adjuster hired to investigate the claims “observed an inaccurate rental start-date and a fictional vendor name listed on the invoice for the heaters.”

Wiseman’s outstanding criminal charges follow a civil suit brought against him last year by the Nunavut Business Credit Corp., which sought to declare Wiseman bankrupt, due to amounts owed to the NBCC “in excess of $1,146,197.08.”

Justice Susan Cooper of the Nunavut Court of Justice upheld NBCC’s suit and declared Wiseman bankrupt in April 2016, following a hearing held in December 2015.

The NBCC is an arms-length lending agency for the Government of Nunavut, and uses public funds to make loans to small and medium-size businesses in the territory that do not qualify for loans from chartered banks.

According to contracts filed with the court, the NBCC in May 2012 gave Wiseman $941,108.52 in loans that were supposed to finance the construction of a garage and purchase new equipment and new vehicles for S & G Taxi.

But Wiseman stopped making payments on the loan in September 2013, two months before he reported the fire damage to Aviva Canada.

NBCC also alleged in its affidavit that Wiseman was selling assets, such as vehicles, that were included in his original security for the loan “with the intent to defraud, defeat, or delay his creditors.”

That affidavit went unchallenged by Wiseman, Cooper noted in her decision.

As litigation on the civil suit continued, Wiseman claimed he had set up a buyer for his company’s assets that would recoup money he owed to the NBCC.

“Although the debtor made representations about having a potential buyer for the major asset of the business and being able to fully satisfy the debt upon that sale being completed, there was never any actual evidence before the court in that regard,” Cooper concluded in her decision.

According to the NBCC’s original claim in the civil suit, Wiseman is also in default with the Kivalliq Business Development Centre for loans exceeding $100,000.

The KBDC, formerly known as the Keewatin Business Development Centre, serves a similar function as the NBCC on a regional level — in this case, making smaller loans to businesses in the Kivalliq.

Wiseman also owes $59,432.50 to Arnie Brown, owner and operator of A & S Contracting and Expediting, a sum that the NBCC acknowledges to be in dispute, as well as $1,440 to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Lawyers in Wiseman’s criminal case, appearing before Justice Neil Sharkey Aug. 8, seemed to be in agreement that the preliminary hearing would take place in Rankin Inlet, although that will not be determined until their next meeting Aug. 29 at Nunavut’s Court of Justice.

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