Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Judge scraps fraud charges in Protos case

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FOUR men facing fraud charges in the collapse of Protos International and its impact on Astra Credit Union are off the hook.

On Thursday afternoon, a Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench judge threw out the case against David Wolinsky, former chairman of Protos, former senior Astra employee Clarke Culbertson, David Mollins, the former chief financial officer at Protos and another Protos senior employee, Barry Milne.

The four had been charged with fraud over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit fraud for their alleged role in an elaborate cheque-kiting scheme between 2004 and 2006 that resulted in Protos getting access to credit well beyond its authorized limit.

When the charges were laid four years ago, police said Astra, which later merged with Assiniboine Credit Union, lost $3.9 million because of the scheme.

Protos, now long out of business, used to own Maple Leaf Distillers and Salisbury House restaurants.

The nature of the fraud was first disclosed in a series of Free Press articles in April 2006.

Marty Minuk, a lawyer at Aikins LLP who represents Mollins, said his client and the other three co-accused were glad the ordeal is over.

"I would say that all were elated, relieved and happy to have the matter determined and put to rest. That's the end of the matter. It's over," he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 27, 2013 A12

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