A fight between two brothers over their jointly owned trucking business is nearing a bitter end after three years of litigation and arbitration. So bitter that one brother is funding an investigation.
Paul and Rana Randhawa have been embroiled in a legal dispute since 2018 over the Ontario, Canada-based Randhawa Group of Companies. The crown jewel of the 12-company operation appears to be a cross-border trucking business, ASR Transportation, based in the Toronto suburb of Oakville with a fleet of over 60 trucks registered to operate in the U.S.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen in May placed the Randhawa Group trucking businesses into receivership under the authority of a trustee to pursue a sale. At the time, Koehnen noted, “They have been involved in a long, acrimonious dispute about the separation of their interests in various businesses that they once ran together.”
The precise nature of the dispute isn’t clear from the documents made public by the trustee, KSV. But they paint a picture of distrust and suspicion, with Paul Randhawa raising concerns about his ability to recover half of the proceeds of a sale and his visibility into the companies’ operations.
So much so that Paul Randhawa’s lawyers persuaded the judge to give the trustee the power to investigate the company to ensure the sale maximizes the value. Rana Randhawa resisted the investigation, arguing that it would unnecessarily delay the sale, according to court documents.
But there’s a catch: Paul is putting up C$100,000 ($87,000) to fund the investigation initially. But according to the judge, Rana will be on the hook for the costs depending on the outcome of the investigation.
One brother ‘strongly denies any suggestion of wrongdoing’
Both men have retained lawyers from prominent Canadian firms: Lenczner Slaght and Stikeman Elliott. Through their lawyers, both brothers declined to discuss the case.
“Rana Randhawa strongly denies any suggestion of wrongdoing,” lawyer Brian Kolenda, a partner with Lenczner Slaght in Toronto, said in an email to FreightWaves. “As the matter is before the court it would not be appropriate to comment further.”
Lawyer Aaron Kreaden, a partner with Stikeman Elliott in Toronto, representing Paul Randhawa declined to comment on the he case, citing the pending legal proceedings.
It’s unclear, exactly, how much money is at stake. But a company the size of ASR Transportation could easily generate generate millions of dollars in revenue annually.
The one thing that the brothers appear to agree upon is the need to sell their companies and divide the proceeds, and that it should be done by a court-appointed trustee. But they even disagreed on which trustee should be appointed. (The judge went with Paul’s proposal.)
The matter had been settled by an arbiter, who issued 12 decisions on the dispute, according to court documents.
Arbiter found ‘red flags for potential fraud’
The basis for the investigation appears to be issues raised by the arbitrator. Among them, the transfer of at least 12 trucks to another trucking company, unspecified “red flags for potential fraud” and a lack of transparency into the operations and finances, according to court documents.
“The need for an investigation is well-founded,” Koehnen wrote in a May ruling.
Rana appears to have disputed at least some of the findings from the arbiter. While Koehnen agreed the allegations raised by the arbiter hadn’t been proved, they merited investigation because of the potential implications for Paul’s share of the business.
“Paul is entitled to 50% of the proceeds of sale,” Koehnen wrote. “Rana is not entitled to any unequal benefit. There are a series of suspicious circumstances the arbitrator identified that would, if substantiated, lead to an unequal benefit to Rana.”