VANCOUVER - A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered 11 people and a company to pay about $850,000 in damages for a scheme that involved stolen vehicles being resold after insurance money was paid out on them.
At issue were 12 vehicles that were reported stolen to the Insurance Corp. of B.C. in 2002 and 2003.
The case is the latest in a series of conspiracy and fraud actions brought against various defendants by the provincial auto insurer over the sale of stolen vehicles.
In his reasons for judgment released Tuesday, Judge Austin Cullen said the vehicles were given false ownership histories and vehicle identification numbers, known as revinning, and then resold after ICBC was notified of their theft.
Cullen singled out Harpreet Awla, his younger brother Gurpreet Awla and Vikram Atwal as the primary conspiracy defendants, none of whom participated in the trial.
"Insofar as Harpreet Awla is concerned, it appears on the evidence that he played a significant role in the revinning scheme, not only in terms of acquiring, disguising and selling the various vehicles, but also in enlisting others ... to become involved in the process based on their particular vulnerabilities," Cullen said
He noted Harpreet Awla also attempted to persuade one of the defendants, Cheri Kostynick, not to testify against him.
According to court documents, Kostynick testified that she knew Harpreet Awla through her boyfriend at the time.
Harpreet Awla was fined $182,496 and ordered to pay $60,000 in punitive damages for his role in the setup.
Gurpreet Awla was ordered to pay $33,000 in special and punitive damages and Vikram Atwal had to pay $122,815 in special and punitive damages.
For her role in the scheme, Kostynick received a $127,341 fine.
Bansal and Sons Diesel Automotive Ltd., located in Burnaby, was fined $12,604 for its part in the scheme, and one of its vehicle inspectors was fined $17,604 in special and punitive damages.
Cullen also fined six others, bringing the total in special and punitive damages to about $850,000.
In August 2011, Cullen found 10 people and one company liable for tens of thousands of dollars in damages for a similar scheme that involved seven vehicles.
At the time, ICBC announced the case was one of several civil actions against 89 defendants.
Note to readers: This is a corrected version. A previous version had an incorrect last name for Vikram Atwal.