Financial victims get green light for class action lawsuit against RBC
Victims of disgraced financier Earl Jones have won a small victory and been given permission to proceed with a class action lawsuit against the Royal Bank.
They will go to court demanding the bank pay $40 million, arguing the RBC branch on St. Charles Blvd. in Beaconsfield turned a blind eye to Jones's scheme.
The victims will also pursue other financial institutions, but say the RBC branch in question was principally responsible for aiding Jones.
When Jones's Ponzi scheme came to light last year, his victims became aware that the bank allowed Jones to make deposits and withdrawals from RRSPs and mortgages, which should not have been allowed.
Victims allege no one at the bank intervened when Jones forged signatures and double-endorsed cheques that went into his personal account.
"We do have proof that as early as November 2001, the Royal Bank made an internal note in their systems that Mr. Jones could get into trouble if he continued with his operation of his Royal Bank account and operating his business," said Joey Davis from the Earl Jones Victims group.
Other victims like Ginny Nelles say they find the decision by Judge Robert Mongeon to allow the suit very encouraging.
"I think we've got a lot of work ahead of us," said Nelles. "You know this is one part of the puzzle that's now been completed. It means that we don't have to go to appeal. It means that we can now move on with the case."
After the judge rendered his decision Wednesday, RBC issued the following statement:
"We are confident in our position and intend to present a robust defence at the merits stage of the proceeding. Authorization is a procedural stage in class actions and RBC did not oppose the request."
Many of Jones's more than 150 victims are elderly, some have already lost their homes as a result of his actions, and three have died in the past year.
The victims say they want this case to proceed as quickly as possible.
"If someone's 80 years old, every day is precious," said Kevin Curran, whose mother trusted Jones with her life savings. "Every day the Royal Bank delays in making the right decision robs these people of the peace that they worked their entire lives for."
Justice Mongeon appears to understand the victims' plea for speed, and has asked the Earl Jones Victims and RBC to return with a list of possible court dates.
"He wants to make sure things proceed in an orderly and quick fashion," said Neil Stein, attorney for the Earl Jones Victims group.