A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered the sale of a Richmond condo after determining that it was acquired using funds from a US$7 million fraud committed in Washington State in 2007.
The court petition that led to the decision came from Prima Technology, Inc., the Washington company that was defrauded.
The company sought the order for the sale of the condo as part of its efforts to recover the money from Jinzhe Yang – also known as Mary Yang – and her husband Samuel Zhu. The pair are former employees of Prima Technology who were found by a civil jury in the U.S. to have committed the fraud, according to the B.C. decision.
Including legal fees, interest and court costs, Yang and Zhu owe a total of more than US$11 million to the company, some of which has been paid back, wrote Justice Alan M. Ross in his decision.
“Since Dec. 16, 2016, the plaintiff has had some success in recovering the funds owed,” Ross wrote. “I am informed that the plaintiff has obtained orders for the sale of four properties in the Vancouver area. However, the plaintiff notes that Mary has not voluntarily repaid any of the amounts awarded against her.”
The title to the Richmond condo, a unit in a highrise at 8180 Lansdowne Rd., is registered to Yang’s mother-in-law Yunyu Yang, according to the decision. Prima Technology launched its court action in hopes of proving that the property was purchased using Mary’s money, and therefore could be sold as part of the company’s efforts to recover the amount she owes it.
Mary was not a party to the court proceeding. The company brought its action against Yunyu, using bank records it obtained in Mary’s bankruptcy proceeding to support its claim.
As summarized in Ross’ decision, Prima argued that the bank records showed Mary had paid off the mortgage on the property in 2011, and that the initial purchase was made in 2010 using funds from a joint account in both women’s names.
This, plus the fact that Yunyu had signed a document transferring the property to Mary for C$1, strongly suggested that Mary held a beneficial interest in the property, even though the transfer was never finalized, according to the company.
For her part, Yunyu argued that the funds used to purchase the property were her own, not Mary’s. She told the court she had made one deposit into the account when she first opened it, and that she did not recall making any additional deposits after that. She also characterized the account as hers, not one that was held jointly.
Ross rejected Yunyu’s arguments, noting that C$265,000 was deposited to the account on the day that the down payment on the condo was made.
“The fact that the funds were deposited that morning disproves Yunyu’s narrative that the down payment was comprised of funds that were always in her account,” the judge wrote. “Yunyu was not able to provide any information or explanation about the source of those funds … The obvious inference is that Yunyu does not know the source, because the source was Mary.”
He went on to conclude that the available evidence established “on a balance of probabilities” that Mary had always beneficially owned the property, and Prima was therefore entitled to an order for its sale to partially satisfy the penalties imposed against her.
Built in 2009, the condo unit has two bedrooms and two bathrooms in 966 square feet of living space, according to BC Assessment. The assessed value on July 1, 2021 was C$741,000.