Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lawyer charged after $12M vanishes

Meerai Cho
A Toronto real estate lawyer has been charged with 75 offenses after a condo development went bust — and more than $12-million in deposits disappeared from a trust account. Meerai Cho, 63, was handling investors’ money for a proposed 14-storey hotel and 30-storey residential tower, with some commercial space, in North York.

The condo project fell through, but deposits to more than 140 people were not returned and the trust account is now empty, police say. Ms. Cho has filed for bankruptcy.

Ms. Cho is charged with 25 counts of fraud over $5,000, 25 counts of possession of property obtained by crime and 25 counts of breach of trust. Police expect to lay more charges as alleged victims come forward.

In a listing still available online, the condo building, Centrium is marketed as a development project by Centrust Development.
In advance of construction, Ms. Cho allegedly began holding money in trust for developer, Yo Sup (Joseph) Lee. He wrote to investors in January telling them the project was not going ahead, but that they’d get their money back. When months passed and the investments were not returned, police started to get complaints. It’s not known where Mr. Lee is.

Buyers fear he is no longer in the country.