The owner of the doomed Algo Centre Mall told the Elliot Lake Inquiry Tuesday he bought a "white elephant."
Bob Nazarian said he did what he could to keep the leaking building in good shape, but the previous owners gave him no inkling of the poor state of repair the building was in when he bought it in 2005 — and that it would cost millions to fix the leaking roof.
Nazarian said he wanted to sue the previous owners but his lawyer advised him against it.
During a morning of number crunching at the inquiry, the commission sifted through financial statements and tax records to determine Bob Nazarian's net worth and his company's financial situation when he bought the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake.
The now-collapsed mall wasn't Nazarian's only property investment at the time.
Nazarian had a history of flipping properties — including several malls — in multiple cities across Ontario.
The inquiry heard that, by 2002 — three years before Nazarian bought the mall in Elliot Lake — he made a total profit of about $8 million from those properties.
But Nazarian told the commission he didn’t know where that money went.
The commission also revealed that the same year Nazarian bought the doomed mall in Elliot Lake he didn't pay taxes and paid himself $450,000.
Nazarian still owns the land where the mall once stood. It was demolished after part of the rooftop parking deck caved in on June 23, 2012, killing two people and injuring several others.
Nazarian's son, Levon, testified last week they plowed money into stop-gap repairs while they tried to sell the mall or raise cash for a proper fix.
However, he said the bank and city thwarted their best efforts to remedy the financially ruinous situation.
The public inquiry was established in July 2012 by the Ontario government and has been underway in Elliot Lake since March.
It was created to report on events surrounding the mall roof's collapse on June 23, 2012, the deaths of Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo, the injuries to others, and the emergency management and response.