A witness testified Wednesday that the owner of the Algo Centre Mall told people he felt he had been duped when he bought the leaky structure, and wanted to sell it.
That was before part of the roof caved in last summer, killing two women.
"He said that he was wined and dined, and given a good opinion of this mall. And apparently not everything was disclosed to him when he purchased it, and the previous owner of the mall naturally had these problems all along, and did not tell him how bad they were," testified Dimitri Yakimov at the public inquiry into the tragedy.
Bob Nazarian purchased the Algo Centre in 2005 from Retirement Living., an economic development entity created to save Elliot Lake's economy by transforming the uranium-mining town into a retirement destination.
In 2008, Nazarian hired Yakimov to help figure out how to stop the mall roof from leaking. Yakimov had a construction background, and, he testified, he had waterproofed other commercial buildings in Ontario.
Yakimov told the inquiry he suggested an expensive membrane for the rooftop parking lot.
"What I proposed to him was too costly. He didn't have money to do it. He kept complaining he was duped into this purchase, and he needed to get out of it somehow," Yakimov said.
Yakimov testified that he continued to raise concerns about the structure of the mall, and became concerned when nothing was done.
"I stopped parking [there], and I told everyone I knew to not go there," he said.
Yakimov testified he was fired by Nazarian in 2009, because he would not agree to try to delay an inspection of the mall by the fire department.
He said at that point, he took his concerns about the mall to city officials -- and moved away.
"I was very disillusioned and I decided I'd had enough in Elliot Lake," he said. A portion of the mall roof collapsed three years later, killing the two women.
Bob Nazarian will appear before the inquiry in July.