A BC insurance corporation has asked the Yukon Supreme Court to freeze the assets of a Dawson City man who is facing fraud allegations.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia applied to have Michele (Mike) Palma’s assets frozen after he transferred the title of seven Dawson City and BC properties into the hands of Torontonian, Giuseppe Villacci.
He transferred the properties one week after the insurance company filed civil charges in BC Supreme Court alleging Palma and 21 others were involved in a car-theft ring between June 1, 2001 and November 13, 2004.
Palma transferred “real property in BC and the Yukon for the purpose of avoiding payment of any judgment in favour of the plaintiff in said claim,” according to a writ of summons the insurance company filed in Yukon court on December 20, 2006.
The ICBC is now asking the court to invalidate the transfers.
The civil lawsuit, originally filed on August 3, 2006 in BC court, alleges the 22 defendants were involved in fraudulent insurance claims and car thefts.
It alleges several of the defendants rebuilt or disguised their vehicles, and then reported them stolen to collect the insurance payout.
ICBC exposed the alleged fraud while investigating a car crash it suspected was staged in October 2002.
Now the insurance company is seeking to recover $553,495 for claims costs.
“We have a zero tolerance for fraud and we obviously want to recover any money we may have paid out for fraudulent claims,” said ICBC spokesperson Kate Best.
The insurance company may press additional criminal charges against the 22 defendants depending on the decision of the BC attorney general’s office, said Best.
A trial date for the civil suit has been set in BC Supreme Court for the spring of 2008.