Cinar Sues Founders & Former CFO For $19M
Plagued TV producer Cinar has filed a CA$28.6 million (US$19 million) civil suit against company founders Ronald Weinberg and Micheline Charest and former senior executive VP and CFO Hasanain Panju. In the suit, Cinar alleges that for six years the trio, "acting in concert, both directly and through companies they controlled, wrongfully and covertly appropriated and used and misused assets of the plaintiffs, and otherwise acted improperly for their personal benefit." Weinberg and Charest were fired in August and Panju was let go in March following the discovery of a non-board-approved investment of US$122 million in an offshore account. The suit alleges that the company's founders used Cinar funds to renovate their homes in Westmount and Magog, as well as paying their housekeeper and gardeners. In addition, Charest's sister Helene Charest received $199,000 for scripts she did not write and a U.S. private school which one of the couple's sons attends was sent $43,000. Panju is accused of paying his wife Sukania $165,000 for no apparent reason. The lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court, holds Weinberg and Charest accountable for $7.2 million and Panju for $7.6 million of the overall $19 million price tag. These alleged acts are at the center of Cinar's financial and legal problems. On Friday, January 26, independent auditors Ernst & Young resigned from their task to audit reworked Cinar financial filings stemming back to 1997, because Cinar could not produce adequate reports on these illegal activities.