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Frank Stronach sues his daughter Belinda alleging mismanagement of assets and trust funds

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Frank Stronach, the 86-year-old who built global automotive parts empire Magna International from humble beginnings in a Toronto garage, is suing his daughter Belinda and others — including two of his grandchildren — in Ontario Superior Court alleging mismanagement of assets and trust funds.

Frank Stronach and his wife Elfriede are co-plaintiffs in the $520 million lawsuit that names Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of The Stronach Group, Alon Ossip, the CEO of The Stronach Group, grandchildren Nicole Walker and Frank Walker and the Stronach Consulting Corp. as defendants.

In their statement of claim, the Stronachs accuse their daughter and Ossip of “having undertaken a series of covert and unlawful actions” that have been contrary to the best interests of other members of the Stronach family.

Also in the allegations contained in the statement of claim: Belinda Stronach, 52, led an extravagant lifestyle that has drained the company in excess of $70 million, including a new office in Yorkville that cost more than $10 million.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. No statements of defence have been filed.

The Stronachs are also demanding the removal of their daughter and Ossip from positions of power within the business corporation. The Stronachs are seeking a total $520 million in compensation for losses and damages the company suffered over the years, according to the statement of claim. Other accusations in the claim include allegations of breach of contract, fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment.

Belinda Stronach also released a statement Wednesday.

“Family relationships within a business can be challenging,” she said through spokesperson Greg MacEachern.

“My children and I love my father. However, his allegations are untrue and we will be responding formally to the statement of claim in the normal course of the court process.”

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Ossip spokesperson Paul Deegan said in a statement Wednesday that the allegations against Ossip are “baseless and are not grounded in fact or reality.”

“Alon has always honoured his obligations and acted in good faith to preserve and grow the Stronach family’s assets and to protect the interests of all members of the family,” Deegan said.

“Alon created huge wealth for the family, and he has always operated in a prudent and commercially-sensible manner. Frank Stronach was a great auto parts entrepreneur, but his recent excessive spending and numerous failed ventures put his family’s wealth at risk.”

Deegan added “this is a dispute between Stronach family members that should be resolved between family members.”

The Stronachs’ statement of claim alleges that their daughter and others have undertaken actions “to appropriate Stronach family assets for their own personal benefits” to the detriment of the defendants as well as their son Andrew and their granddaughter Selena. These actions are alleged to have occurred in the period between 2011 and 2016, when Frank Stronach had appointed his daughter as the chairman and president of The Stronach Group, the claim says.

“Belinda and Alon have asserted control over The Stronach Group in an oppressive manner, and have taken steps to shut the rest of the Stronach family out of the family’s business,” the claim reads in part, describing a “complete break-down in the relationship” within the family businesses.

“Belinda has appropriated funds from The Stronach Group and has acted in a self-interested manner. She has placed herself repeatedly in situations of potential and actual conflict,” the statement of claim says.

The Austrian-born Stronach came to Canada in 1954, when he was 21. Over the years, he went on to become the largest owner and operator of thoroughbred race tracks in North America. He is also the founder of Magna International, a network of more than 330 auto parts manufacturing operations in 28 countries.

The statement of claims notes that an employment agreement was reached in 2013 to appoint Ossip as the CEO of The Stronach Group, where he would be paid $1 million annually plus “substantial employee benefits and a sizable discretionary bonus.” He was also granted a 5 per cent interest in some assets of the company.

“From virtually the moment this arrangement was entered into, Alon failed to fulfill his most basic obligations as CEO of The Stronach Group. Instead, he breached repeatedly his legal, equitable and fiduciary duties,” the claim says.

Belinda Stronach suspended Ossip from his role as the company’s CEO in 2017, although Frank Stronach — who accused Ossip of inattention and insubordination — wanted him fired, according to allegations contained in the statement of claim. Ossip still maintains positions as a trustee, director and officer of various trusts within the company.

Another twist in the saga of the Stronach family business came near the end of 2013, when Frank Stronach resigned his positions within the company to chase a lifelong dream of becoming a member of parliament in his native Austria. But barely four months after assuming his political post, he resigned and came back to Canada “in order to devote his time, efforts and attention” to the family business, according to the statement of claim.

The Stronachs, in their claim, paint a picture of their daughter and Ossip as less-than-diligent corporate executives over a three-year stretch.

“They routinely failed to report to work for days or weeks at a time in the period from late 2013 to November 2016, and failed or refused to return calls, emails and texts on a timely basis, or at all, including from members of The Stronach Group and from others associated with the various businesses carried on by The Stronach Group,” said the statement of claim.

“Belinda would show up for scheduled meetings hours late, or sometimes not at all. Frank has also become aware that Belinda has hired, and continues to hire, her friends and acquaintances to occupy positions of authority in The Stronach Group that they are unqualified to fulfill,” the statement of claim said.

The statement of claim says Frank Stronach did not take steps to reappoint himself to his previous leadership positions within the company but no one disputed his authority until later in 2016.

In November of 2016, Belinda Stronach and Ossip “informed Frank for the first time that The Stronach Group was facing significant liquidity issues” which “came as a surprise to Frank and raised red flags about their management of The Stronach Group,” according to claims contained in the lawsuit. Around that time is when Stronach’s daughter and Ossip informed him he “had no signing authority or ability to access corporate funds” since the date of his resignation in 2013, according to the lawsuit.

“Alon belittled and embarrassed Frank, and did so with the blessing and encouragement of Belinda,” the Stronachs say in their statement of claim. “Belinda and Alon made clear to Frank, Elfriede and employees of The Stronach Group that they intended to exert control over the organization, and to eliminate Frank’s role in the family enterprise that he had created and funded,” the claim says.

Mary Ormsby is a reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Reach her via email: mormsby@thestar.ca

Gilbert Ngabo is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @dugilbo

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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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