Trial continues for trio charged in OPP union executive fraud

OPPA

ORILLIA – The trial of former Little Current resident Martin Bain and two other former senior executive members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) continued at the Ontario Superior Court in Orillia on Tuesday, November 5 with all three accused vehemently denying the charges. Mr. Bain served as an OPP officer in Little Current for a number of years.

The three senior members of the OPPA, Karl Walsh of Bradford West Gwillimbury, James Christie of Midland and Mr. Bain, now of Oro-Medonte and formerly of Little Current are standing trial in Ontario Superior Court in Orillia.

A 2015 filed affidavit lists allegations of suspicious financial transactions including the purchase of a condominium in the Bahamas and a $100,000 wire transfer to the Cayman Islands for a “high risk” investment.

The defendants maintain that, while “unorthodox,” their purchase of a travel agency five years ago (allegedly financed partially with union funds) was for the benefit of the membership. “We were looking forward to it coming to fruition,” stated Mr. Bain during his testimony before the jury.

The prosecution has alleged that the trio tried to hide the purchase from other union board members, using their high-ranking positions to drive union business to the travel agency. Co-accused lawyer Andy McKay and businessman Francis Chantiam also bought shares in the travel agency at the heart of contention. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

During his testimony, Mr. Christie asserted that the OPPA had become the best in the province, having negotiated positive contracts and pension benefits for their 10,000 members, but asserted that there was a “gap in the complete package” stemming from a lack of a travel service offering good rates for both corporate and personal travel for not only the OPPA members and their families, but all first responders. Mr. Christie went on to say that it “made perfect sense.”

The trio denied any attempt to conceal anything from the board, maintaining that they made the purchase on behalf of the OPPA, using in part their own funds which they anticipated being refunded once they had the approval of the full board. Both Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain maintained that they intended to present the plan to the full board in the spring once all due diligence was completed.

Prosecutor Robert Hubbard questioned Mr. Christie over a 2014 text indicating that a return was not anticipated before the next two to five years. Mr. Christie’s reply was that “it means what it says.”

Crown witness Klara Kozak, a third partner who was hired to run the agency, claimed in her testimony that Mr. Christie had suggested that the purchase should be kept “to ourselves.” Mr. Christie denied that that conversation took place.

Challenged that the purchase would have been a tough sell to the rest of the board, Mr. Christie maintained that the three of the executives were the main executive decision makers for the board. Despite there being five other members of the board, Mr. Christie pointed out that this was how they had managed “other successful ventures” on behalf of the OPPA.

Mr. Bain and Mr. Christie characterized themselves as “out of the box thinkers” and while their methods might have seemed unorthodox and unconventional, they maintained their actions were above board and that there was no attempt at deception.

The former union officials also described the impact the arrests had on their lives. Mr. Bain recalled the terror of facing the barrels of numerous guns when uniformed officers arrived at his home in 2015 bearing a search warrant.