Recycling Scam Penalties Increased After Appeal

Connector Summer 2016

Two men who appealed an $844,778 penalty assessed against them in a beverage container recycling scam have learned they will have to dig a little deeper – and pay $27,500 more.

In an Aug. 18 decision, the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board increased the penalties against Johnny Ha, Shawn Diep, and Alberta Reclaim and Recycling to reflect calculation errors in the original assessment.

The appeals board found there was “a clear intention on the part of the appellants to defraud the recycling system.”

The men and their company had sought to reduce the administrative penalty levied against them in February 2015 by Alberta Environment and Parks, which administers the recycling rules under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

An investigation had found that Ha and Diep ran a warehouse in northwest Edmonton that received crushed and baled beverage containers from a recycling society in Whitehorse, Yukon. The containers had already been returned for deposit refunds.

In Edmonton, the containers were sorted, counted and put into large bags, then transported to a bottle depot in Andrew that was owned by Alberta Reclaim and Recycling.

From January 2012 to January 2013, an estimated 8.3 million containers worth an estimated $972,000 in deposit returns were transported into Alberta by the company and introduced into the Alberta deposit refund system through the Andrew bottle depot, the appeals board found.

The original $845,000 administrative penalty levied against the men and their company was based on 13 counts of accepting beverage containers from Yukon and returning them for refunds in Alberta, one count of operating the Edmonton warehouse as a bottle depot without a permit, and one count of failing to comply with conditions of their permit for the Andrew bottle depot.

The men and the company had appealed both the $75,000 penalty assessment and a $769,778 economic benefit assessment.

The appeals board had to determine if the penalties were reasonable in the circumstances.

The board decided the penalties should be split between the two men to recognize the different time periods when they were sole directors of Alberta Reclaim and Recycling. It also increased the penalties slightly, to reflect “calculation errors that the board corrected,” the board said in its 32-page decision.

Diep will now pay a $32,500 penalty assessment and an economic benefit assessment of $467,178, while Ha will pay a $42,500 penalty assessment and an economic benefit assessment of $329,750.

The new total amount comes to $871,928.

Source: CBC News