Top News

Belinda Stronach countersues father Frank as family legal feud continues

TORONTO — Belinda Stronach has countersued her father for millions of dollars in a statement of defence that alleges he lost vast sums of money on pet projects.

She claims in an Ontario Superior Court of Justice filing that she is owed about $33 million from her father Frank Stronach from funds she gave him for a run at politics in Austria and to settle unpaid taxes in the country.

Frank Stronach, who founded Magna International Inc., sued his daughter and others last year for more than $500 million over alleged mismanagement of the family's assets and trust funds.

The elder Stronach had accused his daughter as well as former business partner Alon Ossip of appropriating family funds for their personal benefit.

The dispute focuses on control of The Stronach Group, the centre of a number of businesses focused on thoroughbred horse racing and gaming that Frank expanded to farming and golf course development.

In the statement of defence filed Monday, Belinda said she had to intervene to stem losses from the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on a cattle ranch, golf course, and other projects.

"Frank's entrepreneurial approach to the business was ultimately out of synch with market demand," the statement of defence read.

Both Belinda and Ossip paint Frank as having a long history of ventures outside of core auto businesses over decades, including magazines and a ski resort, a proposed Austrian theme park, and energy drinks.

Her statement of defence said that more recently he spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a Florida farming operation and golf resort, with the agriculture business running up  losses of more than US$100 million. Expenses have also included two Pegasus statues for a horse-racing course, whose initial cost was estimated at US$6 million but climbed to US$55 million.

Overall the defendants estimate that Frank's spending and "unsound business decisions" have reduced the family net worth by some $800 million.

"His refusal to let go of his failing business ventures has become financially disastrous," said Ossip in his statement of defence.

"Frank was, in his day, a giant of Canadian business...today, at 86 years of age, Frank's business judgement is not at all what it once was."

 

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press

Recent Stories