Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Six-year legal dispute put to rest

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A more than six-year dispute has finally been put to rest between a group of high-profile Winnipeggers and the former head of a local distillery and their credit union.

Costas Ataliotis, the one-time CEO of Maple Leaf Distillers, has settled his debt with investors in the now-defunct distillery, who include former Winnipeg Jet Thomas Steen, his ex-wife, Mona Steen, plastic surgeon Dr. Ken Murray and his wife, Judith and information-technology consultant Max Feierstein.

"The judgment against Mr. Ataliotis has been satisfied to the mutual satisfaction of both parties," said Dave Hill, partner at Hill Sokalski Walsh Trippier, who represents the investors.

The group had received a judgment several years ago against Ataliotis and his former business partner, David Wolinsky, for $875,000 for using Maple Leaf and two related companies, Protos International and Salisbury House, as their own personal bank accounts.

The judgment against Wolinsky is still in effect but Hill said it's unlikely it will ever be acted upon against the former lawyer, who now lives in B.C., as it's widely believed he's bankrupt.

Rocky Kravetsky, who represented Ataliotis, could not be reached for comment.

A separate case involving an elaborate cheque-kiting scheme at Astra Credit Union, which later merged with Assiniboine Credit Union, has also been settled.

A Free Press investigation published several years ago revealed hundreds of millions of dollars in cheques were cycled among Astra accounts held by Protos, Maple Leaf and Salisbury House for several years ending in 2005. (Salisbury House has since been taken over by new owners.)

Feierstein said the long-awaited resolution to the two cases has been met with relief by members of the group, not celebration.

"We are pleased that the matter has finally been settled. We can move on and focus on the more important things in life, like family and friends," he said. "We have talked about getting together one final time to get some closure."

Hill said the entire ordeal was arduous because the nature of the issues involved was novel and unique, not just in Manitoba but in Canada.

"It's sad what happened to people who were taken into a web of friends by Wolinsky and Ataliotis," he said.

The last affadavit sworn by Ataliotis was from Cyprus but Hill said it is believed he is now living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2012 A3

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