Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

An Okanagan woman, who alleges a social worker misappropriated funds she was entitled to while she was in foster care, has taken a small step forward in a large legal battle.

The woman, whose name is covered under a publication ban, filed a civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court naming the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Director of Child Welfare, Interior Savings Credit Union and several unnamed individuals. Also named is Robert Riley Saunders, her former social worker, whose bank records are the subject of the suit.

In court documents obtained by Kelowna Capital News, she alleges Saunders created a joint bank account with her, from which he subsequently transferred funds into other accounts in his name at Interior Savings. She also alleges negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy between Saunders and unknown employees of Interior Savings.

READ MORE: Former Kelowna social worker facing 4 new civil lawsuits

READ MORE: Lawsuits allege B.C. government social worker stole from foster children

The suit is still before the courts, but one legal battle turned out in the woman’s favour regarding efforts to have Saunders’ financial records produced.

While Interior Savings had already produced statements relating to the woman’s accounts, she was seeking further information regarding 17 other alleged victims who have accused Saunders of wrongdoing as well as mortgage documents and other financial information.

Interior Savings took the position that those documents were irrelevant and contained personal information of third parties who had not been given notice of the application.

The court agreed that certain requested documents were not germane to the suit but did order that Interior Savings produce some documents they previously hadn’t.

In an Oct. 16 decision, the judge noted the woman had tendered a copy of a “Personal Member Application” which was signed by Saunders as the applicant and an Interior Savings employee as a witness. Where the woman would have signed, over the words “applicant signature,” “not a signer,” was written.

The woman contends that this document is evidence that Interior Savings allowed Saunders to open an account in her name without her signature.

“She argues that this was contrary to Interior Savings’ policy, which required that a beneficiary sign a Personal Member Application and consent to an account being opened,” read the documents.

According to Interior Savings, that document was not for a joint account, but rather a trust account, for which the beneficiary’s signature is not required.

“The distinction between a joint account and a trust account may be an issue at trial,” read the decision.

However, the judge did find the account opening document submitted by the woman provides at least some evidence that Interior Savings allowed Saunders to open an account for the plaintiff without her signature or agreement.

Interior Savings was ordered to produce any further account opening documents on which one of the alleged victims of Saunders is “not a signer” or the alleged victim’s signature is left blank, as well as statements for those accounts.

“Beyond these specific documents, however, the plaintiff’s demand for all of the account documents for all of Saunders’ alleged victims is overbroad and unsupported by the pleadings or evidence,” the judge wrote.

The notice of application identifies 17 additional victims but does not explain their alleged victimization by Saunders or how his conduct in relation to those individuals is relevant to his conduct or the knowledge of the defendants in this action.

This proceeding is one of 10 actions naming Interior Savings as a defendant with respect to Saunders’ alleged misappropriation or mishandling of funds, three of which allege fraud and conspiracy.

“It is unclear how the allegations of the 15 other alleged victims relate to the matters at issue in these actions. I am informed by counsel for Interior Savings that the allegations in the other actions are different in kind from the allegations in these actions,” the judge wrote.

These allegations have not been proven in court.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

YOU didn’t back check …

Pro hockey player Connor Jones’ inspiring stories on life, hockey and everything in between.

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

B.C. doc breaks down the incognito mosquito

Dr. Carol Fenton is a Medical Health Officer for Interior Health

Work remains to be done in B.C. care homes

BCSLA represents private operators of Independent and Assisted Living, and Long Term Care residences

Police investigating car accident on Rossland Hill

Captain Grant Tyson says the rollover resulted in minor injuries to three people

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read