Squabbling Kelowna siblings set for more court time in battle over $70-million family company | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Squabbling Kelowna siblings set for more court time in battle over $70-million family company


Four Kelowna siblings locked in a bitter dispute over the running of the $70-million company their parents left them will soon spend more time in the courtroom after a Court of Appeal judge overturned an earlier decision that the company be split up.

According to a Jan. 5 B.C. Court of Appeal decision, Justice David Frankel said Walter and Antony Weisstock would "suffer irreparable harm" if Witmar Holdings was split up against their wishes.

The decision means the four siblings will go back to the courtroom to argue about the fate of their parents' company, prolonging more than a decade's worth of litigation.

The public feud involves the four children of Willy and Maria Weisstock who left their $70-million real estate management and investment company to their kids when they passed away.

The four siblings, Walter and Antony (Tony), Albert and Silvia Gerard split into two camps with Walter and Anthony wanting to continue running the family business while Albert and Silvia wanted the company liquidated.

However, the family feud dates back to before Willy and Maria died and in 2011 Albert was fired from running the day-to-day operations of the company.

His dad voted against him running the firm, while his mom sided with him.

In 2013, Albert began a wrongful dismissal suit although it's unclear if this was ever resolved.

The lengthy court battle appeared to have come to an end when in December last year Justice Allan Betton ordered the company to be liquidated but gave the four squabbling siblings an opportunity to split the company up in private before the court ordered it to happen.

However, Walter and Tony launched an appeal.

In the decision, the brothers argued that the "siblings’ acrimony" hadn't affected the running of the company and liquidating it would be a "draconian option of last resort."

They say that if Witmar Holdings were broken up it would cause them to lose the company they have helped build for over 30 years.

Albert argued the appeal is unnecessary as the judge gave them the opportunity to sort the company out themselves privately.

However, Justice Frankel sided with Walter and Tony.

The justice said the brothers will "suffer irreparable harm" because the threat of the company's liquidation hung over them like a "sword of Damocles."

The justice continued to say they'd lose money and would have to disclose information they otherwise wouldn't disclose.

Ultimately, the justice ordered that the issue could go to an appeal.

The move will see the four squabbling siblings back in court for a hearing in May.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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