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Freeze on Chinese Vice Consul General’s Accounts

Canadian Court Orders Freeze on Chinese Vice Consul General’s Accounts

Court Orders to Garnishee Assets of PRC Official Following Libel Against Falun Gong

TORONTO (FDI) – The Ontario Superior Court has ordered to freeze the Vice Consul General of China, Pan Xinchun’s bank account for refusing to follow a court order to pay damages when he was found liable for defamation last February (news) in an unprecedented case.

On Feb 3rd, 2004, Justice Spiegel of the Ontario Superior Court decided that Pan could not claim immunity and agreed that he, “acted maliciously and outside of his consular functions,” when he defamed local Falun Gong practitioner Joel Chipkar as being a member of a “sinister cult” in the Toronto Star back on April 25th 2003. Pan was ordered to pay $10,000 for Chipkar’s legal fees and $1,000 symbolic fee for damages. The Chinese government refused to accept the decision. Following the libel judgment, the Peoples Republic of China, through a Toronto law firm stated in writing to the court and to Foreign Affairs that, “Neither it, nor Mr. Pan, are subjected to the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts and PRC will not submit to the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts for any reason.”

However, after Pan refused to pay the damages, the Ontario Superior Court issued a Notice of Garnishment against him on July 14th 2004. On the same day, Chipkar’s law firm, Fasken Martineau, issued the notice to Pan’s bank, the Chinese Government-owned Bank of China, to freeze his account.

David Chan, the VP - Chief Accountant and Compliance Officer at the Toronto branch of the Bank of China confirmed receipt of the court order and indicated that he would comply and send a Garnishee Statement to indicate balance information. Chan also acknowledged the bank’s legal obligation to freeze any assets by the court order. However, on July 20th Chan wrote back to Chipkar’s lawyer Peter Downard, stating the bank was not able to give effect to the Notice of Garnishment due to the status of Pan’s account. When asked to confirm the precise status of Pan’s account and the date of Pan’s last transaction he would not provide any further details.

Chipkar says: “This case is a matter of principle. Chinese officials here in Canada continue to incite hatred against Falun Gong practitioners to the Canadian government, media and the community. The PRC and its officials cannot violate Canadian laws and hurt Canadians with impunity and without accountability. This is not China.”

After deliberating with his legal council this week, Chipkar says he plans to subpoena Pan to attend a judgment-debtor examination where Pan under oath, will be required to answer questions related to any assets he may hold and his failure to comply with the court order.

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