Canadian Plastics

Ontario finance minister faces pressure over Royal links

Investigations into business deals between Royal Group Technologies and a Caribbean resort have taken a political t...

February 27, 2004   Canadian Plastics

Investigations into business deals between Royal Group Technologies and a Caribbean resort have taken a political twist, with Ontario’s opposition parties calling for the resignation of Liberal Finance Minister Greg Sorbara — a one-time director of the plastics company.

The Ontario Securities Commission, RCMP and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency are conducting separate investigations into $32 million worth of business dealings between the vertically integrated manufacturer of building products and a 1,000-room resort, spa and casino in St. Kitts.

Vic De Zen, Royal’s chairman, founder and controlling shareholder, also has a controlling interest in the resort.

Yesterday, the government transferred the finance minister’s responsibility for the Ontario Securities Commission to Gerry Phillips, chair of the Management Board. (The securities regulator works at arm’s length from the government, but traditionally reports to the legislature through the finance minister.) It was the day after Royal revealed that it was under investigation.

Sorbara confirmed that he was told about the investigation when it began in December, but insisted that he hadn’t been involved in the investigation since then.

“Certainly, should I ever become the subject of an investigation, I would step aside pending the outcome,” he said.

Sorbara became a Royal Group Technologies director in 1994, but resigned his positions as a company director and member of the audit committee when he was named to the Cabinet. He’s been finance minister since October.

Royal Group recorded $1.9 billion in sales in 2003.


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