A months-old injunction against Freedom Convoy organizers ended on Monday, but the lawyers responsible for muting the incessant horns in February are focused on expanding and certifying a proposed class action lawsuit to secure the compensation for Ottawa residents and businesses.
Lawyers representing Ottawa residents in the proposed lawsuit against convoy protesters successfully argued for a Mareva injunction on Feb. 17, a court order aimed at restraining convoy leaders from “selling, removing, dissipating, alienating, transfer, dispose” of up to $20 million in assets raised worldwide.
On Monday, Ontario Superior Court Judge Calum MacLeod said the injunction would be overturned.
MacLeod retained a receiving order ensuring that a third-party agent could continue to hold just over $5.7 million raised by the convoy protests until lawyers decide what to do with the money.
Paul Champ, one of the attorneys involved in the proposed class action lawsuit, originally said a wide net had been cast to recover funds from the Freedom Convoy.
“We got most of the funds that we were trying to freeze now,” he said.
More money placed in escrow in the past month
As of March 30, nearly $2 million in assets were held by the third party, according to the latest official report from the escrow agent.
Then, on Monday, the court ordered that some C$3.8 million raised on US crowdfunding site GiveSendGo be transferred to escrow.
The site had transferred this money to a Canadian bank account belonging to the non-profit company created by the organizers. Instead, the money was held by a payment processing company due to freezing orders put in place in February to prevent the money from being used by protesters.
Over CA$400,000 of digital currency was also transferred to escrow.
Proposed class action should go ahead
Champ and his team are expected to expand the scope of the proposed class action to include thousands of defendants — including donors and more implicated truckers — as they seek to reimburse downtown residents and businesses.
The defendants would then file their own documents before the court decides whether or not to certify the class action.
“We have completed our efforts to track and control all of the funds that were given to support the truckers in the convoy and that were basically given to allow the truckers to continue their occupation of downtown Ottawa and continue to harm the downtown Ottawa,” said Champ.
His team hopes that the money now in escrow “will hopefully one day be used to compensate residents of downtown Ottawa.”
Most of the funds raised for the convoy are returned to donors
The convoy rally in Ottawa raised more than $20 million in total during its three-week stay in the city’s downtown core.
Tamara Lich, the convoy leader who gained access to a large sum of money through her role in organizing the protest – for which she has since been charged – helped raise nearly $10.1 million before the suspension of donations.
The website used to collect that money, GoFundMe, then returned most of those funds to the original donors beginning Feb. 5, the company said.
The nearly $1.4 million that remained in Lich’s possession was later transferred into escrow.
Two fundraisers launched on GiveSendGo raised more than $12 million and in a March 9 court appearance, GiveSendGo co-founder and CFO Jacob Wells said the donations would be returned. to donors.
Asked by CBC, the company declined to disclose the total amount refunded.
The bulk of the digital currency collected through convoy fundraisers – 20.7 bitcoins (worth nearly C$1.1 million) – continues to elude authorities.
Authorities are believed to be monitoring the remaining bitcoin, but it is unclear whether they will succeed in capturing it.