TORONTO (FDI) – The Ontario Superior Court directed the Bank of China to seize applicable assets from the Vice Consul General of China, Pan Xinchun’s bank account for refusing to follow a court order to pay damages when he was found liable for defamation last February (news) in an unprecedented case.
The Ontario Superior Court directed Vice Consul General of China Pan Xinchun’s bank to seize applicable assets after finding him liable for defaming a Falun Gong prac¬titioner.
On Feb 3rd, 2004, Justice Spiegel of the Ontario Superior Court decided that Pan could not claim immunity and agreed that he, “acted maliciously and outside of his consular functions,” when he defamed local Falun Gong practitioner Joel Chipkar as being a member of a “sinister cult” in the Toronto Star back on April 25th 2003. Pan was ordered to pay $10,000 for Chipkar’s legal fees and $1,000 symbolic fee for damages.
The Chinese government refused to accept the decision. Following the libel judgment, the Peoples Republic of China revealed in writing their attempts to pressure and threaten the Canadian government to influence the court system by stating, “This is an extremely serious issue with potential substantial consequences for the state relations between Canada and China.” They also state they made, “several requests to the Department of Foreign Affairs to intervene in this proceeding” and that, “Neither it, nor Mr. Pan, are subjected to the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts and the PRC will not submit to the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts for any reason.”
However, after Pan refused to pay the damages, the Ontario Superior Court issued a Notice of Garnishment against him on July 14th 2004. On the same day, Chipkar’s law firm, Fasken Martineau, sent the notice to Pan’s bank, the Chinese Government-owned Bank of China, to freeze his account.
David Chan, the VP - Chief Accountant and Compliance Officer at the Toronto branch of the Bank of China returned the Garnishee Statement on July 15 to Fasken Martineau indicating there was no funds available for seizure.
Upon further inquiry by Chipkar’s lawfirm, on July 20th Chan stated that the bank no longer maintained the account. Due to current privacy laws, Mr. Chan said he was unable to provide any further details regarding the account.
Chipkar says: “This case is a matter of principle. Chinese officials here in Canada continue to incite hatred against Falun Gong practitioners to the Canadian government, media and the community. The PRC and its officials cannot violate Canadian laws and hurt Canadians with impunity and without accountability. This is not China.”
After deliberating with his legal counsel this week, Chipkar says he plans to subpoena Pan to attend a judgment-debtor examination where Pan under oath, will be required to answer questions related to any assets he may hold and his failure to comply with the court order.
Joel Chipkar is available for comment at (416) 709-8678.