Kwantlen student lawsuit delayed

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A lawsuit against former members of the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) alleging large-scale theft and fraud involving more than $1 million has been been put on hold by the newly elected student executive – one of whom is the sister of a defendant named in the civil suit.

Justine Franson, director of operations on the KSA executive board, is the sister of Aaron Takhar, one of five men named in a 2008 B.C. Supreme Court claim.

When asked by a radio station outside a KSA meeting on Wednesday if she was related to Takhar, Franson didn't respond, slamming a door in the reporter's face.

However, an acquaintance of the Takhar family confirmed to The Leader Thursday that Justine is, in fact, Aaron Takhar's sister and that Franson is her married name.

"She shouldn't be making those decisions (on the lawsuit) because of the conflict of interest," said the caller, who did not want to be named.

The KSA's director of finance, Nina Kaur, is also a first cousin of Takhar's, the caller said.

The matter was first reported by editor Matt DiMera at the Kwantlen Runner, the university's newspaper, who has been questioning why the board, on its first day in office, switched lawyers and essentially froze the lawsuit.

In June, the paper reported that lawyer David Borins, who had represented the KSA since 2007, was ordered to stop all work in April and not to schedule a date for the case management conference pertaining to to the 2008 lawsuit until further notice.

Franson defended the decision, saying there was a conflict of interest because former KSA general manager Desmond Rodenbour (who helped launch the lawsuit and was subsequently terminated) went to high school and university with Borins. She also expressed concern about the the amount of money past boards had spent on legal fees.

Franson never mentioned being related to Takhar.

Aaron Takhar was leader of the Reduce All Fees (RAF) party, which took power of the KSA in a controversial 2005 vote and then subsequently ousted in a court-ordered election. A subsequent student executive sued Takhar, as well as former association president Danish Butt, Jaivin Khatri, Yasser Ahmad and Jatinder (Joey) Atwal in 2008. At the time, the plaintiffs said the focus of the lawsuit was Takhar, who was considered the leader of the group.

The lawsuit stemmed from findings of financial audits and a forensic audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007 concluding there were thousands of dollars in mysterious loans, questionable investments and undocumented payments made to KSA executives and staff between December 2005 and November 2006. The suit claims during their time at the KSA's helm, the defendants orchestrated $820,000 in unsecured loans, attempted to use $1 million in the KSA's health and dental plan to profit personally, paid $20,050 for a party that didn't happen and paid more than $140,000 in unsupported payments to RAF affiliate executives and employees.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In an interview with The Leader at the time, Aaron Takhar denied all the allegations and claimed the forensic audit was politically driven and poorly done.

"The perception the audit gives is we were up to no good ... which is not the case at all," said Takhar, alleging auditors didn't speak to everyone involved and only did surface research into loans made by him and his staff.

Repeated calls and emails from The Leader to Franson and other KSA executive board members were not returned.



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