Missing documents. Abandoned offices. Vanishing vehicles. A company president believed to have fled to Mexico. And more than $1 million in alleged fraud.
This is the current state of the investigation into Canadian dealer Southwest RV and Sport Ltd, according to the Times-Colonist, Toronto. It was once one of Vancouver Island’s largest motorhome sales companies, but now the business is being pried open and examined by the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia.
RCMP say approximately 74 people have alleged Southwest RV and Sport sold their motorhomes or trailers on consignment – which the company wasn’t legally authorized to do – and didn’t pass on the cash.
Investigators have pegged the alleged fraud claims at more than $1 million, and opened an Island-wide tip line last week.
It has become one of the largest and most complicated investigations in memory for the Motor Vehicles Sales Authority, said deputy registrar Ian Christman. The authority acts as the province’s enforcement and licensing arm for the more than 1,700 vehicle dealerships in B.C.
The authority froze Southwest RV and Sport’s sales license, assets and bank accounts July 14. But when an official visited one of the company’s offices, he found a man using a crane to try and lift vehicles out of the locked lot and onto a flatbed truck, said Christman.
Investigators entered company offices in Sidney, Chemainus and Duncan on Aug. 1, and found them abandoned and empty, said Christman.
The company had only 10 RVs or motorhomes left that the authority could liquidate for cash.
“There are a lot of business documents that should be available from a business like this that are not,” Christman said, describing a lack of balance sheets and basic business ledgers. “Requests to produce them have failed.”
The authority is “not getting a lot of cooperation” from company president Kersti Clark, said Christman. “We have strong indications she’s in Mexico,” he said.
Clark’s Victoria lawyer, Rory Morahan, could not be reached for comment yesterday.