AManitoba livestock broker is being investigated by the RCMP after the company abruptly ceased operating last month and told producers it could not pay them for their cattle.
G&M Livestock sent a letter dated Feb. 23 to producers saying it “has ceased operations and is unable to pay any of its unsecured creditors.” The letter signed by company president Gerald Ballegeer of Dufresne, Man. gave no further explanation.
Sources estimate the company may owe over $1 million to at least a dozen Manitoba cattle producers, plus another $300,000 to $400,000 to producers in Saskatchewan.
“The RCMP are aware of the losses by a couple of Brandon-area producers and I understand that number may increase,” said Staff Sergeant Mike Zens of the Brandon RCMP detachment.
“We are investigating it in conjunction with the commercial crime unit out of Winnipeg.”
Zens said last week the investigation was in its early stages and it was too soon to say if charges would be laid.
“Some very important evidence needs to be obtained and analyzed before that decision can be made,” he said.
G&M Livestock operates under a numbered company listed as 4486413 Manitoba Ltd.
The Manitoba government last week suspended the licences of Ballegeer and other family members connected with the business under the Livestock Dealers and Agents Licensing Regulation. They are: Marie Ballegeer of Winnipeg, Jason Ballegeer of Landmark and Chris Ballegeer of Winnipeg. All are listed as agents or dealers for 4486413 Manitoba Ltd.
One western Manitoba producer said he’s owed $140,000 for three loads of cattle shipped Jan. 14 and 21. Another producer in Saskatchewan said the company owes him $84,000 for his cattle.
G&M Livestock acted as an agent who arranged for trucks to pick up cattle at farms and ship them to destinations in other provinces and the United States.
Several producers told the Co-operatorthey had dealt with G&M Livestock for years and had always been paid on time, including last December.
“We never had any problems with them,” said one.
He said the first sign of trouble came when he and other producers did not receive cheques for cattle shipped in January.
G&M Livestock has a Winnipeg street address and telephone number. Its phone was disconnected last week. Efforts to reach Ballegeer and others involved with the company were unsuccessful.
“They’ve fallen off the map,” one producer said.
A lawyer representing several
Saskatchewan producers said last week he believed no bankruptcy papers had been filed.
A Manitoba government spokesperson said G&M Livestock had posted a $40,000 bond with the province and is believed to have posted a similar bond in Saskatchewan.
The spokesperson said the province will place newspaper advertisements asking producers owed money by G&M Livestock to come forward and lay claims against the bond. They have 90 days to respond.
However, producers are unsecured creditors who usually are the last to have access to any money that may be available. [email protected]
– SGT. MIKE ZENS, BRANDON RCMP