Penalty handed to family of embezzler cut in half by B.C.’s high court
The B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled a North Vancouver man does not have to pay back nearly $250,000 stolen by his wife from her employer before she died, but the widower is still liable for more than $100,000.
The case began after the 2012 death of Wanda Moscipan when the Vancouver Coastal Health authority attempted to recover nearly $600,000 it found she had embezzled during her eight years as a financial administrator.
The health authority launched legal action against both Moscipan’s estate and her husband, and a lower court ruled the widower must have known his wife was receiving funds through fraudulent means.
That decision ordered Miroslaw Moscipan to repay $246,073.23., finding that amounted to the portion of stolen funds used to cover family expenses.
At the time, Justice Leonard Marchand wrote restitution on the part of her husband “is adequate to send a message to others that they do not stand to benefit from the misdeeds of others when they know or ought to know of ill-gotten gains.”
Moscipan appealed to B.C.’s highest court, fighting the repayment order and a further ruling that set aside his wife’s death-bed transfer of her portion of the family home.
Moscipan argued Vancouver Coastal Health failed to prove that he knew his wife was embezzling money.
But in a unanimous judgement issued Wednesday, Justice Richard Goepel disagrees, saying when the man questioned his wife about the money he was put off by an answer that wouldn’t have “satisfied a reasonable person.”
While he agreed with the lower court that Moscipan had “constructive knowledge” of his wife’s illegal activities, he found the trial judge incorrectly calculated how much of the cash was traceable solely to Moscipan.
The court cut the husband’s liability to $130,295.75, the amount it calculates Wanda Moscipan paid toward her husband’s credit card bills.
The high court has also revised the order that declared the joint tenancy transfer of the family’s North Vancouver home from wife to husband was a “fraudulent conveyance.”
Goepel supports the finding that the transfer “was done for the purpose of delaying and hindering the creditors of the appellant’s late wife,” but says the lower court was wrong to reject the handover.
“Mr. Moscipan remains the registered owner of the property,” says Goepel. “He, however, holds the property subject to whatever claims which might be forthcoming from Ms. Moscipan’s creditors.”
The University of British Columbia has also filed legal action against the estate of Wanda Moscipan, her husband and son, alleging she stole nearly $700,000 from the institution while working as a part-time administrator in the Faculty of Medicine.
Those claims have not been proven in court.