‘Ottawa’ Accounting Firm Partner Accused of Diverting Millions From Prominent Bay Street Family’s Estate
A founding partner of the Toronto branch of one of Canada’s largest mid-tier accounting firms is being accused of inappropriately diverting millions of dollars from the estate of a prominent Bay Street family into accounts he and his wife control.
The allegations are contained in a legal action filed in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice and involve the estate of Syra Kamin, who died in October 2014, and was the widow of Jack Kamin, the founder of Cadillac Construction, a precursor to Cadillac Fairview.
In a notice of application regarding the management of the estate filed on April 13, 2016, Syra’s grandson Paul Kamin and her daughter Ruth Lee Chelin, both trustees, sought to have Sheldon Carr removed as the estate’s third trustee. They also sought orders to have Carr produce tax and financial documents related to the estate, and to have Carr and his wife Bonni repay millions in transfers and disgorge “all amounts, profits, property and/or benefits” received through their dealings with Syra Kamin’s personal and business interests.
Sheldon Carr is a founding partner of Collins Barrow Toronto LLP, a member of the Collins Barrow National Cooperative, the country’s eighth-largest accounting organization. In the past few days his name and biography have been removed from the Collins Barrow website.
We cannot understand why Carr would transfer money to his and his wife’s personal accounts.
“The allegations are against Carr in his capacity as an estate trustee for the Syra Kamin estate. They are not against the firm. All that work is done personally,” said Harry Blum, the managing partner at Collins Barrow Toronto.
“In light of the allegations, all of which have been unsubstantiated against Mr. Carr, a conversation took place and he felt it was best that he resign and disassociate himself from the firm.”
In his affidavit, Paul Kamin alleges that Carr, who served as the accountant to the 15 private companies that make up the Syra Kamin estate, “may have inappropriately transferred and converted Estate funds for his own personal benefit and for the benefit of his wife, Bonni.”
Kamin said he only became aware of “Carr’s conduct and personal dealings in assets owned or controlled by my now deceased grandmother” last February, following a call from RBC Dominion Securities.
The notice of application filed by Kamin and Chelin, based on information provided by RBC DS, claims “that Carr had executed or been part to the execution of various guarantees for his own and his wife’s benefit from my grandmother’s accounts and undertaken several substantial transactions for the benefit of his personal accounts.”
The application lists five such guarantees — taking place from June 2009 to November 2010 — “in relation to the RBC DS trading accounts held by Carr, Bonni Carr and Syra Kamin Limited [SKL].” These included guarantees of trading accounts belonging to Carr and his wife by SKL, a corporation owned by the deceased.
In the Feb. 26, 2016 meeting with RBC DS, Kamin claims he learned that “trading conducted in Carr and Bonni Carr’s accounts led to a debit in SKL’s accounts of $2.315 million.” In his affidavit Kamin said: “I am aware of no justifiable reason or purpose for the guarantee of Carr and Bonni Carr’s trading accounts by SKL.”
Carr never advised or consulted us in any respect regarding the transfers.
The Kamin affidavit also states that, following the death of his grandmother in October 2014, about $3.5 million was transferred “to Carr and Bonni Carr from SKL’s accounts.” Those amounts were made in three transfers with the largest one being for US$1.8 million on Dec. 22, 2014. The other amounts were $669,000 and $492,000, both of which were transferred on April 24, 2015.
“Carr never advised or consulted us in any respect regarding the transfers,” said Kamin. “We cannot understand why Carr would transfer money to his and his wife’s personal accounts.”
Kamin, who is the director of financial institutions, North America, at Scotiabank, and Chelin want the courts to give an order to have these amounts repaid to the estate.
While the will of Syra Kamin provided for three trustees, Kamin, in his affidavit, said that following the death of his grandmother, it was agreed that it would “be natural” for Carr “to assume the primary responsibility for management of the estate affairs, given his longstanding involvement” in her financial affairs.
Since the application was filed, the court has ordered that Carr be removed as a trustee, leaving Kamin and Chelin as the succeeding co-estate trustees.
The court has also ordered that Carr turn over all information to the trustees, that he and his wife “not pledge, transfer, encumber or dispose of any property,” that his “signing authority” be revoked and that the new trustees be allowed to file an “order on the land and premises owned by Carr and Bonni.”
Calls made to Carr at his Toronto residence were not returned. Based on an examination of court documents, it seems that Carr has not made any filings.
None of the allegations against Carr have been proven in court.