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Ex-employee: Mall owner slave-driving, unethical boss who ignored safety

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - A former manager of the ill-fated Algo Centre Mall accused its owner of being an unethical, slave-driving employer and sleazy landlord, a public inquiry heard Friday. In her letter of resignation displayed at the inquiry, Henri Laroue laid out numerous grounds for quitting May 3, 2011, one year before the mall's roof caved in killing two women. Among them, Laroue complained she was on call 24 hours a day and, despite being called in regularly, received no extra money.

Owner of collapsed mall didn't want to pour own money into 'black hole'

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - The owner of the crumbling Algo Centre Mall admitted Thursday he actually had the cash to fix the leaking roof but chose not to because it would have meant pouring money down the drain. Testifying for a third day at the inquiry into the mall's deadly collapse, Bob Nazarian said he sold a property he owned in 2009 — four years after he purchased the mall — then spent $2.6 million to buy another. Why, commission counsel Peter Doody asked, didn't he instead put that money into fixing the roof? "Because," Nazarian said. "Because why?"

Proposed $900K mall fix would have been a 'catastrophe,' owner testifies

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - An expensive plan to fix the perennially leaking Algo Centre Mall went nowhere because the rooftop garage could not have sustained the weight of the proposed repair, the mall's owner testified Wednesday. Bob Nazarian told the inquiry into the mall's deadly collapse he was on the verge of signing a contract worth $903,000 in the spring of 2008 until he discovered the plan would not work. "I'm thankful to my God that I did not sign the contract," Nazarian testified on his second day on the stand. "We could have had a catastrophe."

Doomed mall a 'steal' that turned out to be a 'white elephant,' owner says

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - The last owner of the doomed Algo Centre Mall said Tuesday he had no idea the building was in such poor condition when he purchased the "white elephant" in 2005. Testifying into last summer's deadly collapse of the mall, Bob Nazarian was adamant he did what he could to deal with the leaking that ultimately led to the rooftop parking deck to the cave in. "I have even lost quite a bit of money in order to keep this mall to the (best) shape as possible, not just because of the property, because of integrity," Nazarian testified.

Ill-fated mall owner's son accused of lying, unethical behaviour to save dad

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - The son of the owner of the Algo Centre Mall found himself branded a liar Thursday during cross-examination on his fourth and final day on the stand at the inquiry into the deadly collapse of the building last summer. Lawyers accused Levon Nazarian of hiding evidence about the mall's state of disrepair, and of resorting to unethical behaviour to protect his father, who risked losing the facility.

Bank's mortgage penalty scuttled firm deal to sell doomed mall, inquiry told

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - A deal to sell an ill-fated mall foundered at the last minute because the bank would not allow early discharge of the mortgage, an inquiry into the building's partial collapse heard Wednesday. The son of the Algo Centre Mall's owner testified the Royal Bank had initially agreed to waive a stiff financial penalty for any prepayment. However, Levon Nazarian said the bank changed its position, making it "impossible" to sell the property. "We were desperate to sell the mall," Nazarian testified on his third day on the stand.

Owner of doomed mall desperate to sell as woes mounted

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - The owner of the ill-fated Algo Centre Mall made numerous attempts to off-load the deteriorating property as he desperately tried to keep his bank at bay, an inquiry heard Tuesday. An inspection in the fall of 2010 for the bank that held the mortgage on the mall had turned up numerous deficiencies with the building, increasing pressure on the owner, Bob Nazarian, to take action. "The rusting steel support columns are a structural concern," the report stated. "It is obvious the repair work to the deck has not worked."

Water damage at doomed mall 'dismayed' bank; threatened to pull mortgage

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - Water damage at the doomed Algo Centre Mall was so severe that the bank threatened to pull the mortgage several years before it collapsed, an inquiry into the tragedy heard Monday. The threat sent the Nazarian family, who owned the mall, on a frantic scramble to forestall the default but the needed repairs were never made. "We were in desperate need of funds to fix the roof," testified Levon Nazarian, who worked closely alongside his father as an independent contractor and administrator. "We were trying our best efforts to stop the leaks."

Owner of doomed northern Ontario mall and son set to testify at inquiry

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - The inquiry into why a northern Ontario mall collapsed last summer killing two women and injuring dozens of others enters its final phase Monday, with the first of two key witnesses taking the stand. Slated to testify over the next two weeks about their roles in the tragedy are Levon Nazarian and his father Bob Nazarian, who owned the ill-fated Algo Centre Mall for its final seven years. "The evidence that we've heard so far is that conditions continued to deteriorate over that period," said inquiry lawyer Peter Doody.
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