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Court grants request to bar sale of Richmond penthouse
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has granted an application by the province’s director of civil forfeiture to bar the owner of a Katsura Street condo from selling it until the outcome of a lawsuit.
The director sought an interim preservation order on a two-storey penthouse apartment at 1807-6333 Katsura St.
According to the court ruling released last week, the Vancouver Police Department’s organized crime section launched an investigation into a drug trafficking network in 2012, and during the investigation identified several properties suspected of being used a storage and processing facilities for controlled substances.
One of those properties, on Katsura Street, belonged to Louise Ching Man Kwok.
During the execution of a search warrant at the penthouse, investigators found more than two kilograms of cocaine, a gram of heroin, two grams of marijuana, and more than 13 kilograms of caffeine anydrous, a known cutting agent for cocaine.
Officers also seized $41,825 in cash, drug packaging materials and containers with drug residue, electronic scales, money counters and a number of cell phones.
Kwok, 32, listed the Katsura property for sale in March of this year, 23 days after the search was conducted. About a month later, the forfeiture director commenced proceedings under the forfeiture act as well as filing a certification of pending litigation against the property.
In the court action, the director claimed Kwok didn’t have sufficient income from lawful sources to explain her equity in the property and her purchase of two Mercedes Benzs.
Kwok, a financial analyst employed by Service Canada, earned about $65,000 each year.
Kwok purchased the penthouse for $539,000 in 2008, paying a $55,000 deposit and financing some $440,000 with a mortgage from Bank of East Asia. How she came up with the remaining $44,300 remains unexplained.
Her mortgage payments were more than $1,600 monthly, yet in the period of 18 months she made at least $43,000 in mortgage payments to Bank of East Asia.
“The director says that after income tax deductions and living expenses, it is unlikely Ms. Kwok had the resources to finance the purchase of the property herself.”
Yet despite her modest income, Kwok also made a $5,500 down payment on a 2010 Merces Benz GLK SUV and exercised an early buy-out option by paying $4,413 in 2012.
She then entered into a new lease with Solution Auto Lease and Sales Ltd. in December of 2012 to buy a 2013 Mercedes ML350, which is worth about $80,000.
That leasing firm happens to be run by Bryan Pang, who a police officer testified in court is known to police as an associate of gang members connected to Asian organized crime.
Kwok was linked to Pang previously through the use of a cell phone that belonged to her. And according to police records, during a routine vehicle check in 2002 by Richmond Mounties, Kwok was in the vehicle with Jeremy Pang, Bryan Pang’s brother and also known as a gang associate. Jeremy Pang also purchased an apartment on the same floor as the penthouse owned by Kwok.
Justice Bruce M. Greyell ruled he was satisfied the director of civil forfeiture has “raised a serious question to be tried...and that it is in the interests of justice for an order to be issued.”
Kwok claimed her innocence and told the court that she leased out the condo.
But Justice Greyell noted that Kwok “made no attempt” in her affidavit to explain how she was able to come up with the money for the penthouse or how she was able to pay out the amount owing on her Mercedes or obtain the new one.
She also neglected to explain her relationship to Bryan Pang.
The court also granted the application to have $41,825 in Canadian currency seized from the Katsura property, held by the court until the final disposition of the case.