Dennis Oland could co-direct murdered father's companies from behind bars

Dennis Oland will be able to continue as co-director of his murdered father's multimillion-dollar companies, even if he loses the appeal of his conviction in Richard Oland's 2011 bludgeoning death.

Only directors convicted of fraud, finance-related crimes disqualified under Business Corporations Act

Dennis Oland is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years for the second-degree murder of his father, New Brunswick multimillionaire Richard Oland. (CBC)

Dennis Oland will be able to continue as co-director of his murdered father's multimillion-dollar companies, even if he loses the appeal of his conviction in Richard Oland's 2011 bludgeoning death.

Nothing in New Brunswick's Business Corporations Act prevents Oland from remaining at the helm while behind bars, according to Saint John lawyer Andrew Costin, who specializes in commercial law.

Under the act, a director of a corporation can be disqualified if they are convicted of an offence related to the promotion, formation or management of a corporation, or involving fraud.

A person who is bankrupt or "of unsound mind" is also prohibited from being a director of a corporation.

However, "there's nothing that discusses any other type of capital offence, such as murder," Costin told CBC News. "It's very clear."

No chance of parole for 10 years

Oland, 48, was sentenced last week to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for at least 10 years. His lawyers are appealing his conviction and appealing a judge's decision to deny him bail pending the appeal.

A jury found Oland guilty on Dec. 19 of second-degree murder in his father's slaying.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

His only son was the last known person to see him alive during a meeting at his office the night before.

Upon his father's death, Oland became co-director of his main holding company, as well as his investment firm, Far End Corporation, and his property management business, Kingshurst Estates Ltd., which were worth an estimated $36 million.

His father's former business associate, Robert (Bob) McFadden, is the other co-director.

Was overspending by $14K per month

McFadden testified Oland is president of the holding company and secretary of the two subsidiaries, while he is the secretary of the holding company and president of the two subsidiaries.

As an officer and director, Oland "needs to sign cheques from time to time but does not work there as a full-time regular employee," according to a pre-sentence report filed earlier this month with the Court of Queen's Bench.

Oland told the probation officer who prepared the report he currently earns $50,000 a year from Far End Corporation and Kingshurst Estates Ltd. The main holding company is not mentioned.

He stated that at the present time his financial affairs are in order.- Pre-sentence report on Dennis Oland

As co-trustee of his father's estate, he receives $10,000 quarterly, according to the pre-sentence report. "This amount is subject to adjustment," it states.

Oland "stated that at the present time his financial affairs are in order," the probation officer wrote.

In the six months leading up to his father's slaying, Oland's spending exceeded his income by about $87,000, his trial heard.

His $163,000 line of credit and $27,000-limit credit card were both maxed out, and he had received a $16,000 advance on his pay from CIBC Wood Gundy, where he worked as a financial adviser.

McFadden testified Oland received $100,000 for serving as co-executor and $50,000 as trustee, while he received $765,000 and $50,000 for the same roles.

Oland's defence lawyers argued his financial problems were not new.

In a sworn affidavit filed with the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in support of his request for bail pending his appeal, Oland said if he acted as director of his father's three companies prior to his incarceration. "If I am released from custody pending my appeal I would continue to do so," he said.

Bail appeal 'extremely rare'

On Wednesday, Court of Appeal Justice J.C. Marc Richard denied Oland's bail request. He said releasing Oland until his appeal is heard would undermine the public's confidence in the criminal justice system.

No one convicted of murder has ever been granted bail pending appeal in New Brunswick and there have only been 21 such cases across Canada.

Court of Appeal Justice J.C. Marc Richard ruled releasing Dennis Oland pending his appeal would undermine the public's confidence in the justice system. (Government of New Brunswick)
Oland's defence lawyers plan to appeal Richard's bail decision. They are currently preparing an application to New Brunswick Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau, requesting he direct a review.

"This is extremely rare," said Nicole O'Byrne, an associate law professor at the University of New Brunswick. She could not say whether it has ever been done in New Brunswick before, but stressed "applying for bail pending appeal on a murder conviction is itself rare."

"The chief justice should direct a review … if in his view the appeal court, properly applying the law, could possibly conclude that the application for release should have been allowed," O'Byrne said. "The chief justice should direct a review where the applicant establishes that there is arguable merit.

"The application should be dismissed if the applicant would have no hope of success on a review, or there was no possibility that the reviewing judge or panel would interfere with the decision," she said.

A review can be heard by a three-judge panel, or, on consent, by a single judge during a public hearing. It's unclear how quickly such a hearing could be scheduled once the application is filed.

A date for Oland's appeal has not yet been set. The Crown has said it likely won't be scheduled until at least October because a transcript of his three-month trial has to be prepared first.

Oland's defence lawyers contend his conviction was an "unreasonable verdict." They argue the trial judge erred in allowing certain evidence to be admitted, and in his instructions to the jury.

They are seeking to have the conviction quashed and either an acquittal entered or a new trial ordered.

With files from Karissa Donkin


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