January 21, 2022
Big Bear Energy Rentals Ltd., a Sylvan Lake, Alberta-based service company operating in the Western Canada oil & gas and civil engineering industries, along with certain other related companies including Barricade Environmental Ltd. with operations in Wyoming, North Dakota and Texas, was placed in interim receivership on January 21 on application by Canadian Western Bank ("CWB"), owed approximately $10.3 million. Business Development Bank of Canada (“BDC”) is also owed approximately $9 million with respect to an equipment loan. Upon its appointment, the interim receiver found what it described as an accounting department plagued with departures and leaves. The company's accounting manager had recently taken a medical stress leave which, according to an email uncovered by the interim receiver, was due to “the directive by upper management of the manipulation of the Big Bear & Barricade financial statements, and the deterioration of respect and leadership with the accounting team …” The interim receiver's initial report further notes that the accounting manager advised that she would typically be instructed by senior management to post unsupported accounts receivable and accounts payable transactions, resulting in higher borrowing values, which allowed the company to draw larger amounts under the CWB facility. She advised that this was also done with the company’s previous banker. According to the interim receiver, it has uncovered $5.9 million in receivables that have been confirmed by accounting personnel to be fictitious, $1.5 million in backdated invoices and $2.3 million in payables which accounting personnel have confirmed to be fictitious and posted to keep the company's profit margin in line with historical financials. Alvarez & Marsal is the interim receiver. Counsel is Miller Thomson for the applicant, BLG for the interim receiver, Cassels for BDC and DLA Piper Canada for Big Bear and related companies.
By Dina Milivojevic