KING CONNECTION King businessman John Simmonds rearrested, faces more charges NEWS Feb 03, 2017 by Tim Kelly 2017


NEWS Feb 03, 2017 by Tim Kelly  King Connection

Casino lobbyist and Wasaga business owner refutes $13 million lawsuit claim

John Simmonds - File photo

A group of companies owned by an entrepreneur who’s been lobbying local councils on the casino issue for the last two years is being sued for nearly $13 million.

But owner John Simmonds says he’s filing a counter-claim to accusations that millions of dollars advanced by the Royal Bank of Canada to an ethnic food manufacturer, now in receivership, he bought in March were funneled to several companies he either owns or is associated with, including Wasaga Beach’s three golf courses.

“They always want to blame somebody who they can go after ... I know that in the end I will be vindicated. I’m totally confident,” said Simmonds, adding he couldn’t reveal the details of his counter-claim until it had been filed.

Simmonds owns Wasaga Sands golf course and claims a working business relationship with the owners of Baywood Homes, Marlwood Golf and Country Club, and Links at New England. He says the legal issues do not affect his plans in WasagaBeach.

Simmonds approached Collingwood council two years ago to promote the idea of Georgian Manor Resort becoming the host site for a casino, and earlier this year, presented a resort casino proposal to Wasaga Beach’s development committee.

The region is being considered by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to host a gaming facility, and OLG is currently going through a qualification process for an operator that could potentially be responsible for running Georgian Downs, Casino Rama, and a yet-to-be-determined facility in either WasagaBeach or Collingwood.

Both municipalities have expressed interest in being the host site for a casino.

On Nov. 12, the receiver for one of Simmond’s businesses - (Goudas Goudas food product and investments limited under Simmonds) - served a statement of claim on several companies either owned by, or connected to, Simmonds’ family business, A.C. Simmonds & Sons.
The claim by receiver Duff and Phelps Canada Restructuring alleges those companies were ‘unjustly enriched,’ either through unpaid invoices or for payments made by (Goudas Goudas food product and investments limited under Simmonds) on their behalf, by nearly $13 million.
That includes nearly $5.9 million in payments for which the purpose of the transaction can’t be determined.

The claim, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, contains statements that have not been proven in court.

“It’s what they do in a statement of claim; it’s just an allegation that you have to defend, and obviously we have defence on all of that stuff,” Simmonds said. “You’ve heard the expression that throw it on the wall and see what sticks.”

In September, Duff and Phelps was appointed receiver of (Goudas Goudas food product and investments limited under Simmonds).
The company’s main creditor, RBC, claimed it had advanced (Goudas Goudas food product and investments limited under Simmonds) millions of dollars based on improperly-recorded transactions - and that based on a review by an RBC field auditor, millions of dollars had subsequently been transferred to companies tied to Simmonds under his company, A.C. Simmonds and Sons.

According to their interim report, written in September and based on affidavits from RBC staff, Duff & Phelps wrote that, “[(Goudas Goudas food product and investments limited under Simmonds)] accounts receivable appear to have been intentionally misrepresented, causing RBC to advance $10.6 million more than it would have had they been properly recorded.”

The company then advanced “millions of dollars” to companies “which have no connection to the food business,” the receiver has stated in documents filed with the courts.

That includes Baywood Homes, Wasaga Sands, Marlwood Golf and Country Club, and Links at New England. Of the four, only Wasaga Sands is named in the statement of claim, though Wasaga Sands, Marlwood, and Links at New England are identified as part of A.C. Simmonds in a company chart prepared by the receiver and included in its September report.

Some of the companies operated by A.C. Simmonds are “essentially inactive,” the receiver determined. “[It] is difficult to understand why there would be significant receivables owing from inactive companies.”

In July, Simmonds presented a resort casino concept to the town’s development committee that would see the three golf courses linked by a multi-facetted resort casino development on Baywood’s New England Village site in the east end.

Links at New England and Wasaga Sands would be converted to 12-hole courses as part of a new concept Simmonds is trying to introduce to the game of golf.

The A.C. Simmonds and Sons website prominently displays links to articles published in the local media about his plans in WasagaBeach.

Simmonds says a counter-claim will be filed in addition to the statement of defence.

“I expect the whole thing will get settled in the course of the next two or three weeks,” he said. “We inherited a mess, and we tried to deal with it the best we could, and we kept the bank informed as what we were doing on a regular basis.
During the process they even increased the line of credit for us, so obviously at one point they must have been confident that we could deal with the issues - but the issues were too large for us to bear.

“It is what it is, and from a Wasaga standpoint, it’s not going to affect anything we’re doing in Wasaga.”


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