Ontario Civil

Contracts (Criminal Law)

Connection between seized money and criminal activity remained to be proven

Individual brought motion under s. 5(1) of Civil Remedies Act, 2001 (Ont.), for payment of legal expenses in order to dispute forfeiture of money. Individual, aged 31, was status Indian and was unemployed. Individual was at Toronto airport going to Panama City. Individual’s luggage was x-rayed and airport security officials discovered tightly-rolled Untied States currency of $104,877 in socks in backpack. Small amount of cocaine was also found. Individual offered several different explanations for travelling to Panama City with over $100,000. Police officers did not believe individual. Money was seized. Individual was arrested and charged with criminal offences. Applicant commenced civil forfeiture proceedings. Individual maintained that seized money lawfully belonged to him and he wanted to have it returned and not be forfeited to Crown as money from drug trafficking or some other illegal activity. Individual claimed he had no means to pay lawyer to dispute confiscation of money, which he claimed he lawfully earned. Individual maintained that seized money was his life savings. He had no criminal record and claimed he had not engaged in criminal activities. He claimed he was going to play in high stakes poker game in Panama. Motion granted. Applicant had not been proven guilty of any offence and he had no criminal record. Connection between seized money and criminal activity remained to be proven. Individual was unemployed and was living on social assistance. He had made his best efforts to prove he was impecunious without seized funds. It was not procedurally fair on s. 5 application to set standard of disclosure that went beyond issues of s. 5 motion. It was not necessary for individual to show that he applied for and was not able to obtain legal aid or lawyer who would take case based on contingency fee agreement or pro bono services. Individual had satisfied onus on him of disclosing all interests in property held by him and disclosing all other interests in property that other persons associated with him should reasonably be expected to contribute to payment of legal expenses. Individual was to be paid $6,000 from money held in court for payment of legal expenses.

Ontario (Attorney General) v. $104,877 in U.S. Currency (May. 21, 2013, Ont. S.C.J., Perell J., File No. 12-CV-456196) 231 A.C.W.S. (3d) 395.

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