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Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX seeks creditor protection after founder's death

Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX seeks creditor protection after founder’s death


Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is due in court on Tuesday as it seeks creditor protection in the wake of the sudden death of its founder and chief executive in December and missing cryptocurrency worth roughly $190 million.

Vancouver-based QuadrigaCX says it filed an application for creditor protection on Jan. 31 and the Nova Scotia Supreme Court will be asked on Feb. 5 to appoint a monitor to oversee the proceedings.

In an affidavit, the widow of Gerald Cotten, Quadriga’s founder, CEO and sole director, said he died suddenly on Dec. 9 due to complications from Crohn’s disease.

Court filings show that after his death, Quadriga employees have been unable to locate or access roughly $190 million worth of digital money.

The company says in a statement that it has been trying to “locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves,” for several weeks, but “unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”

In Quadriga’s legal filings it says it currently owes roughly 115,000 users $70 million in currency, plus an additional $180 million worth of cryptocurrencies, based on market prices in December — most of which can’t be accessed.

Court documents show that Quadriga had been facing liquidity issues over the past year but a major issue arose in January 2018 when CIBC froze roughly $25.7 million of its funds held in the account of a third-party processor.



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Harassment, sexual assault among alleged misconduct by border agents investigated by CBSA

Harassment, sexual assault among alleged misconduct by border agents investigated by CBSA


The Canada Border Services Agency, which has the authority to detain and search Canadians and carry out deportations, investigated 1,200 allegations against its own staff over a two and a half year period from January 2016 to the middle of 2018.

Documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request describe a wide range of alleged offences among agency staff, including criminal association, excessive force and using “inappropriate sexual language.”

One staff member apparently created “a hit list for employees who crossed him.” Other allegations appear more minor, such as sleeping on the job or calling in sick to attend a wedding. 

The records released by the CBSA don’t show which allegations were found to be credible or what actions the agency took to address specific problems. 

They come from a database of internal investigations undertaken by CBSA in response to complaints about conduct.

The database provides a rare glimpse into how one of the largest policing bodies in the country handles complaints against its own. The CBSA remains the only major law enforcement body that has no outside oversight of staff conduct. 

Toronto immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk said the CBSA needs outside oversight. (John LeSavage/CBC)

“CBSA, for many years, has been a law unto itself,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk.

“It’s hard to imagine an organization with the size and the complexity and the amount of responsibility and authority of an agency like this would be completely without any kind of oversight.” 

50 categories of offenses

A CBC News analysis found 50 different categories of offenses. The largest number are filed under “neglect of duty,” with 228 total allegations, followed by 183 allegations of “discreditable conduct” while on duty. 

The agency also investigated 59 allegations of harassment, 38 allegations of “criminal association” and at least five allegations of sexual assault. 

Specific details are redacted in some cases but not all. For example, one employee was accused of “selling prohibited knives.” Another “may have conducted an unauthorized query of an ex-[girlfriend].”

Roughly, a quarter of misconduct cases involved multiple allegations, including a small number of cases with more than a dozen allegations each. 

 

There are reasons to believe the actual number of misconduct allegations against CBSA officers is far higher than what was disclosed to CBC News, according to Sandaluk. 

It can be difficult to convince people to file complaints, he said. Some people who come into contact with the CBSA over immigration issues decide not to file legitimate complaints about staff, fearing repercussions from the agency.

Temporary residents and visitors to Canada, Sandaluk said, “simply aren’t around long enough to make a complaint or to see that complaint through.”

“These allegations — as disturbing as they are —  probably only represent the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

They ‘kept kicking my back with their knees’

Lucy Granados, who was deported to Guatemala last year, alleges CBSA officers seriously injured her during an arrest. Granados arrived in Canada in 2009 and remained in Montreal after making a failed refugee claim.

When Granados applied for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, the border agency moved to deport her, sending four officers to her Montreal apartment building last year. 

Internal reports written by three of the arresting officers and obtained by CBC News from a group advocating on behalf of Granados indicate one officer wrote that some force was necessary because Granados would not surrender her hand to be cuffed.

Lucy Granados was deported to Guatemala last year. Granados said she was seriously injured during an arrest by CBSA agents prior to her deportation. (Dave St. Amant/CBC)

Granados, who didn’t file a complaint, said at least one CBSA officer violently pushed her to the ground and kneeled on her back while pulling on her arm. It’s unclear if her case was a part of the database.

“They pulled it backwards and kept kicking my back with their knees,” Granados said in a video-link interview with CBC News, speaking through a translator.

CBC News shared the reports, which are filed any time force is used during an arrest, with CBSA spokesperson Nicholas Dorion. 

“CBSA officers are trained in the use of force and are expected to follow all related CBSA rules and procedures,” Dorion said in an email.

“While unfortunate, CBSA officers do encounter circumstances where use of force is necessary.” 

Complaint to CBSA ‘doesn’t really lead anywhere’

Dorion would not say whether Granados’s removal prompted any internal investigation into staff conduct, citing privacy legislation.

“A specific individual’s file, including those from internal investigations resulting from an external complaint to the CBSA or from any alleged misconduct behaviour or other personnel security and professional standards issues reported by managers, is protected by these parameters,” Dorion said in an email.

Dr. Nazila Bettache reviewed Granados’s medical file and concluded she suffered a traumatic injury during her arrest. (Dave St. Amant/CBC)

Nazila Bettache, a Montreal-based physician and social justice activist who reviewed Granados’s medical file, said Granados suffered “a traumatic injury … which basically damaged the nerves in her cervical spine,” causing paralysis in her arm.

“Where is the accountability?” she said. “Who was there to … look after the situation and make sure that procedures are respected, that there is no abuse of power?”

Granados said she still suffers from a lack of feeling in her arm.

Advocates for undocumented workers who knew Granados when she lived in Montreal said they have so little faith in CBSA’s ability to police itself, they’ve encouraged her to pursue a complaint through the United Nations rather than with the CBSA.

“We have enough experience to know that making a complaint to the CBSA about the CBSA doesn’t really lead anywhere,” said Mary Foster of the group Solidarity Across Borders.

Mary Foster of the activist group Solidarity Across Borders says she has no faith in the CBSA’s complaint process. (Dave St Amant/CBC)

Even if Granados had filed a complaint, there’s no assurance it would appear in the numbers released by the CBSA.

Public complaints submitted online are initially filed separately, a CBSA spokesperson said. After review, the allegations may be reported to the Personnel Security and Professional Standards Division (PSPSD), in which case they would be added to the database.  

“Allegations are inputted in the database and are thoroughly investigated to determine whether they are founded,” a spokesperson said in an email. 

Liberals still promising legislation 

The Liberal government has been promising to introduce legislation to add an oversight process.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in 2016 that the lack of CBSA oversight was “a gap that definitely needs to be addressed.”

“CBSA officers processed 95 million travellers in 2017, and only a very small number of these interactions led to a formal complaint,” Goodale’s spokesperson, Scott Bardsley, said in an email. 

His office declined an interview request but said the minister is still committed to creating oversight legislation.

With an election looming this fall, however, it’s not clear any legislation could be passed before the current session of the House of Commons is finished.

“As long as you don’t create this agency, misconduct or harassment can occur on an ongoing basis, essentially unanswered,” Sandaluk said. 

If you have tips or story suggestions send them to diana.swain@cbc.ca or stephen.davis@cbc.ca



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Third person charged in horse neglect investigation west of Edmonton

Third person charged in horse neglect investigation west of Edmonton


A third person faces animal cruelty charges after an investigation of neglected horses on two properties near Evansburg.

The Alberta SPCA has laid an additional 27 charges under the Animal Protection Act.

Robert Cornell, 60, of the Evansburg area faces nine charges each of causing an animal to be in distress, failing to provide adequate food and water, and failing to provide adequate care when an animal is wounded or ill, the SPCA said Monday in a news release.

Patricia Lynn Moore, 48, and Ross Andrew Atkinson were each charged in January with the same 27 offences in connection with the investigation.

The Alberta SPCA said it received a complaint from a member of the public in December about numerous horses that were dead or in distress on a property in the Evansburg area.

The initial investigation led peace officers to a second property in the same area.

All three people charged in that case are scheduled to appear in Evansburg court on March 11.

Moore and Atkinson also face more than 60 Criminal Code animal cruelty charges following an RCMP investigation into conditions on a rural property in the same area.

They are scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 11 to face those charges.

Police have said that 65 horses and six dogs were taken from a property near Entwistle during that investigation.



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Hydro One to pay American energy company $103M US after failed merger plan

Hydro One to pay American energy company $103M US after failed merger plan


Hydro One and Avista Corp. say they have agreed to cancel their merger after regulators in Washington state and Idaho shot down the deal. 

The energy companies say that after weighing their chances of  getting those decisions reversed, both their boards of directors decided it was best to call off the plan.

They say under the terms of the merger agreement, Hydro One must now pay Avista US $103 million in termination fees.

Earlier this month, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission denied a request from both companies to  reconsider its rejection of the Ontario utility’s planned takeover of the American company.

Ontario electricity customers won’t foot bill, minister says

The request was issued after regulators found that the $6.7-billion planned merger would not sufficiently safeguard Avista customers from the whims of the Ontario government, which is Hydro One’s largest shareholder.

The regulator has pointed to Premier Doug Ford’s efforts to force former Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt to retire —which was followed by the resignation of the utility’s entire board — as a sign that the province was willing to put political interests above those of shareholders.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission also denied the proposed takeover, finding that the companies had failed to demonstrate that the transaction met the public interest.

The merger required approvals from state regulatory commissions in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Alaska to go through, but only the latter two have approved it. Oregon’s public utility commission opted last week to put its decision on hold.

Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford said the Progressive Conservative government accepts the decision made by the two utilities, and will continue to focus on bringing down hydro rates for Ontarians.

“Any costs incurred as a result of today’s decision will not be paid by Ontario electricity customers,” Rickford said in a
statement.  



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French minister announces Ghosn resignation from Renault

French minister announces Ghosn resignation from Renault


France’s finance minister says that Carlos Ghosn, who is fighting breach of trust and other charges in Japan, has resigned as head of Renault.

Ghosn has been detained for more than two months in Japan.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday that Ghosn formally handed in his resignation to Renault’s temporary leadership on Wednesday evening.

The board of French carmaker Renault SA is expected to name Jean-Dominique Senard of Michelin as chairman, and Renault executive Thierry Bolloré as CEO. 

Japan’s prosecutors, meanwhile, are defending Ghosn’s detention more than two months after he was arrested.

Shin Kukimoto, deputy chief prosecutor, told reporters Thursday the authorities want Ghosn in custody because of fears he might tamper with evidence.

Kukimoto also said Japan lacks a system for electronic monitoring of suspects released on bail. Ghosn offered to wear such a monitoring device in his latest request to be released. The Tokyo District Court has twice rejected his formal requests to be allowed out of the Tokyo Detention Center on bail.

Ghosn says he is innocent of any wrongdoing. He has been charged with falsifying financial statements and breach of trust.



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What Venezuelan turmoil could mean for Canada's oilpatch

What Venezuelan turmoil could mean for Canada’s oilpatch


More turbulence in Venezuela — including the threat of United States sanctions on its crude oil exports — has Canada’s oilpatch watching carefully for how the impact will ripple across the industry. 

Analysts say sanctions, or a further drop in Venezuelan oil output, could leave American refiners on the hunt for heavy crude from elsewhere, providing a potential price lift for Canadian producers.

But with limited ability to get more oil to the Gulf Coast, some believe the Canadian sector won’t be able to seize the additional market share it otherwise might.

Longer term, if Venezuela changes political regimes, the upheaval could see the South American country’s oil production soar once again — and change the outlook for global prices.

“Any more reduction in Venezuela crude could have an impact on the price of heavy crude for Canadian producers,” said Kevin Birn, an oilsands analyst with IHS Markit in Calgary. 

“In terms of our ability to maximize the benefit, we are constrained by our own infrastructure.”

Venezuela’s political and economic outlook is unclear as opposition leader Juan Guaido and interim president Nicolas Maduro struggle for control of the country.

Traditionally, Canada and Venezuela produce heavy oil that compete for space in the U.S. market. However, Venezuela crude production has fallen dramatically in recent years amid economic and political strife.

“There’s been a developing opportunity for Canadian crude, in particular going into the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries,” said Allan Fogwill, president of the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

“They were getting most of their heavy crude from Venezuela and Mexico — and a little bit from Canada. Now, with the concerns in Venezuela, that means those refineries are looking north to Canadian producers.”

Fogwill said limited pipeline capacity and rising demand for Canadian crude at those refineries is one reason why rail shipments of oil to the United States have been on the rise.

Maduro attends a rally in support of his government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas on Thursday. (Miraflores Palace/Handout/Reuters)

Last fall, Canadian shipping constraints to the U.S. led to a backlog of oil and steep discounts on Alberta crude. Prices increased significantly when the province imposed mandatory crude production cuts for 2019.

The heavy blend of oil from Alberta’s oilsands known as Western Canada Select was trading at $43.47 US a barrel on Thursday, up $1.36 US on anticipation that any decline in Venezuelan crude would result in more demand for WCS.

Rory Johnston, a commodity economist at Scotiabank, said the Canadian heavy crude price could further improve depending on whether the U.S. moves forward with sanctions and what happens with Venezuelan production.

“But I think at this stage it’s fairly unambiguously bullish for oil prices in the short term,” he said.

Robert Fitzmartyn, head of energy institutional research at GMP FirstEnergy, said he’ll be watching to see how any related improvement in crude prices filters into the market and Canadian energy stocks.

“The stock market probably responds mildly,” Fitzmartyn said.

Longer term, however, there are even more questions.

If there is regime change in Venezuela, oil production could ramp up to more traditional levels and that might come to weigh on oil prices, Johnston said.

“What that likely would mean is actually a slightly more bearish outlook longer term,” he said.

“Production has been declining so rapidly there [in Venezuela] that really, at this stage, virtually any alternative governance is likely to be better at managing that production.” 

Fogwill said that if Venezuelan production returns to traditional levels, it will have an impact on world prices, too.

“If Venezuela came roaring back … that could undermine the high price for oil.” 



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Premier Rachel Notley addresses Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Premier Rachel Notley addresses Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Political watchers will be measuring the partisan temperature of Premier Rachel Notley’s speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce today.

Notley’s address — part of the chamber’s series of lunchtime events with the leaders of the provincial political parties —is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

CBC will live stream Notley’s speech here.

Liberal leader David Khan, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney and Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel have already made their appearances in the chamber’s series.

As premier, Notley determines when Albertans will go to the polls this spring. She has said she plans to honour Alberta’s fixed election period legislation where the vote must be held between March 1 and May 30, 2019.

Notley has held press conferences over the past month which critics claim were free of real news and instead were opportunities to talk up her government’s record.

Last week, Notley took a partisan swing at Kenney, her main opponent, when she alleged he intended to introduce tolls on Alberta highways.

The UCP fired back by saying Kenney’s user-fee idea would only apply to new infrastructure required for industry.

As for Kenney, the UCP leader launched a four-day tour of northern Alberta with events in Slave Lake on Wednesday. Kenney’s trip will include stops in Grande Prairie, Fairview, La Crete, Peace River and High Level.

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Montreal real estate developer Tony Magi dead after NDG shooting

Montreal real estate developer Tony Magi dead after NDG shooting

A man in his 50s is dead after he was found shot in the upper body in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district this morning.

Multiple sources have confirmed to Radio-Canada the dead man is Tony Magi, a businessman with known ties to the Montreal Mafia.

Police were called to a garage located at 6125 Saint-Jacques Street near Beaconsfield Avenue around 11:15 a.m.

Saint-Jacques is closed between Hingston Avenue and Grand Boulevard as police investigate.

Police have cordoned off St-Jacques Street between Hingston Avenue and Grand Boulevard as the investigation continues. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

This is not the first time an attempt has been made on Magi’s life. 

In 2008, his SUV was left riddled with bullets in a shooting.

In 2011, his vehicle was again shot at. His wife, who was inside the vehicle at the time of the shooting, was unharmed in that incident.

In 2013, a man with a gun was spotted near his NDG home.

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Scout rolls out: Amazon tests delivery robots near Seattle

Scout rolls out: Amazon tests delivery robots near Seattle

Amazon is bringing delivery robots to the streets of a Seattle suburb.

The online shopping giant says it started to test self-driving robots in Snohomish County, Wash., Wednesday that can bring Amazon packages to shoppers’ doorsteps.

The robots are light blue, about the size of a Labrador, have six wheels and the Amazon smile logo stamped on its side, according to Amazon photos and videos. Six of them will be roaming the sidewalks of a Snohomish County neighbourhood Monday through Friday during daylight hours.

They move roughly “at a walking pace,” according to a statement from the company.

Amazon said a worker will accompany the robots at first, but it didn’t provide additional details of how the service would work. The company did not respond to questions from the Associated Press about the test.

Several companies have been testing similar delivery robots on college campuses that deliver fast food or snacks to students.

Amazon said its robot, which it is calling Scout, can navigate around pets, pedestrians and “anything else in their path.”

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Ottawa pledges $40M for Nokia to conduct 5G research

Ottawa pledges $40M for Nokia to conduct 5G research

Ottawa will announce up to $40 million for Finnish telecom giant Nokia on Thursday to conduct research on 5G wireless technology in Canada.

The funding comes as the federal government is in the middle of a comprehensive national-security review of the potential involvement of Nokia’s Chinese rival, Huawei, in Canada’s eventual fifth generation mobile network.

Ottawa is also locked in a diplomatic dispute with Beijing following Canada’s Dec. 1 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.

Huawei, Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson are among the top contenders to help Canada’s telecom companies, including BCE and Telus, build the country’s 5G mobile networks.

Three of Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group — the United States, Australia and New Zealand — have banned the use of Huawei products in 5G network development based on fears the company could spy on behalf of China.

Canada’s Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who along with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is responsible for overseeing the 5G security review, has said the analysis is not just about Huawei and is designed to assess how best to protect Canadians.

Bains finalized the Nokia deal Thursday in Davos, Switzerland, where he’s participating in the World Economic Forum.

Canada’s ongoing scrutiny of Huawei has created concerns within the Chinese government. Lu Shaye, China’s envoy to Ottawa, warned Canada last week of possible repercussions if the government ultimately decides to bar Huawei from building the country’s 5G networks.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson later tried to play down Lu’s remarks by saying the ambassador didn’t mean that China intended to interfere in Ottawa’s decision-making process. Hua Chunying also told journalists in Beijing on Monday that losses would be inevitable since Huawei is a leading supplier of 5G technology, according to a transcript on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

Later the same day, Bains and Goodale told reporters that Huawei isn’t the only company that can build 5G in Canada. When asked about options, Bains mentioned Ericsson as an example.

Few details are available about Canada’s 5G security review, but a well-placed source has said a decision is still months away.

The development of 5G — or fifth-generation — mobile networks will give users much faster connections and provide powerful data capacity to meet heavy demand from new applications, such as virtual reality, as people connect more devices to the internet.

The federal funding will back Nokia’s research work in Canada to help telecom networks meet the needs of 5G technology. The company is also developing cybersecurity tools to protect telecom networks.

The government is expected to sell the deal as a way to support more than 2,000 of Nokia’s jobs already in Canada and to create 237 new positions. Nokia Canada’s projects, valued at over $214 million, are based in Mississauga, Ont., and the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

Ottawa will also invest up to $35.7 million towards a $92.7-million partnership between Siemens Canada engineering company, and Atlantic Canada utilities Nova Scotia Power and New Brunswick Power. The deal calls for Siemens Canada to conduct research and development on smart-grid technology for power systems in the provinces.

The government’s Siemens and Nokia commitments will be made through a federal program known as the strategic innovation fund.

The issue of whether Huawei is allowed to build the country’s 5G networks has connections to a diplomatic crisis over Canada’s recent arrest of Meng, the company’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder.

Canadian police arrested Meng at Vancouver’s airport at the request of American authorities, who are seeking her extradition on fraud allegations.

Her arrest has angered Beijing, and the case is at the heart of tensions between Canada and China. The Chinese government says Meng has done nothing wrong and has demanded her release, warning Canada of severe consequences if it doesn’t free her.

After her arrest, China detained two Canadians. Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, were taken in on allegations of engaging in activities that have endangered China’s national security.

In recent weeks, China also sentenced another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, to death in a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case. He was originally handed a 15-year jail term in 2016, but the court gave him the death penalty after revisiting his case.

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