Ambassador Bridge Homes: The Affiliates

By Claire Brownell

Normally, finding out who bought a property, when and for how much is as simple as a trip to the land registry office, a computer search and an $8 fee. Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun makes it a lot more complicated than that.

When the bridge company buys property in Windsor, a lawyer, a numbered company or one of Moroun’s many trucking and real estate companies almost always makes the initial purchase. The affiliate who made the initial buy then usually transfers the property to another affiliated company, and often yet another one after that. Moroun will also frequently combine and divide the registration numbers used to identify and search the properties at the land registry office, making it difficult to figure out whether the record is for one property or many and where it’s located.

Usually, the transfers among affiliated companies are for $0, but sometimes the documents will indicate that money changed hands, often hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moroun pays cash most of the time, but he has taken out large mortgages on some of his industrial and commercial property through DuraRock Underwriters, yet another affiliated company.

Michael Lamb, a real estate law professor at the University of Western Ontario, said this is legal and not particularly unusual. Selling the properties from one affiliated company to another can trigger a tax benefit, taking out mortgages can free up cash the business can use elsewhere and having a numbered company or lawyer hold property in trust helps keep the real ownership private, he said.

In order to determine the extent of Moroun’s real estate holdings in Windsor, The Star had to link each of the companies and lawyers whose names appear in the ownership histories back to the bridge company. Here’s the full list.

Residential properties

The following companies turn up in the ownership history of Moroun’s residential real estate in Sandwich:

The Canadian Transit Company – The Canadian arm of the bridge company. The CTC is listed as the current owner of the majority of the bridge company’s Windsor property.

2087341 Ontario Inc. – This numbered company appears in a single property purchase: 2856 Riverside Dr. W., the former Villa Maria nursing home. The administrator of 2087341 Ontario Inc. is Michael Carlone, according to a corporate search. In 2006, when the numbered company bought the former Villa Maria, The Star reported that Carlone was an employee of Warren-based Central Transport Inc., one of many companies owned by bridge owner Matty Moroun. In addition, one of the company’s directors is Peter Farah, who is also a director of 2094422 Ontario Ltd. and Central-McKinlay International Ltd.

Canbri Properties ULC – This company appears in the ownership history of just one property: 759 Mill St., an apartment building at Rosedale Avenue. 608261 Ontario Inc., another Moroun-affiliated company, purchased the building in 2007 and transferred it to Canbri Properties ULC in 2009. A corporate search lists Sandi Villeneuve, an employee at the Moroun-affiliated companies Central Transport, Advanced Border Processing Centre and Custom Services International, as the person authorized for filings.

608261 Ontario Inc. – This numbered company was listed as the owner in most of the bridge company’s property purchases from 1996 to 2006, especially purchases on or near Indian Road. A corporate search names bridge company president Dan Stamper as the president of this company.

2094422 Ontario Ltd. – Directors of 2094422 Ontario Ltd. include Michael Carlone, Peter Farah – who is also a director of the Moroun-affiliated companies 2087341 Ontario Inc. and Central-McKinlay International Ltd – and Robert Michael Lysy, who is listed as the buyer on 11 Sandwich property purchases from 2006 to 2007. The bridge company often transfers properties along the Bloomfield Road rail corridor to this numbered company. 2094422 Ontario Ltd. also tried to buy a downtown parking garage near the Windsor-Detroit tunnel in 2006, but Toronto developer Fercan Developments Inc. outbid it.

Robert Michael Lysy – Lysy is listed as the buyer on 11 Sandwich property purchases from 2006 to 2007. Lysy is also a director of 2094422 Ontario Ltd. Lysy later transferred all of those properties to either 2094422 Ontario Ltd. or 608261 Ontario Inc. for $0.

Brian McCutcheon – A lawyer with the Toronto law firm Himelfarb Proszanski LLP. McCutcheon is listed as the initial buyer on 12 Sandwich properties purchased between 2004 and 2007. From Dec. 23 to Dec. 24 of 2008, he transferred all of those properties to either 2094422 Ontario Ltd. or 608261 Ontario Inc. for $0.

David Himelfarb – A lawyer with the Toronto law firm Himelfarb Proszanski LLP. Himelfarb is listed as the initial buyer on 12 Sandwich properties purchased between 2006 and 2007. From Dec. 23 to Dec. 24 of 2008, he transferred all of those properties to either 2094422 Ontario Ltd. or 608261 Ontario Inc. for $0.

Peter Proszanski – A lawyer with the Toronto law firm Himelfarb Proszanski LLP. Proszanski is listed as the initial buyer on 12 Sandwich properties purchased between 2006 and 2008. From Dec. 23 to Dec. 24 of 2008, he transferred all of those properties to either 2094422 Ontario Ltd. or 608261 Ontario Inc. for $0.

Tonya Mah/Tonya Hall – There are references online to a lawyer by the names of both Tonya Mah and Tonya Hall with the Toronto law firm Himelfarb Proszanski LLP. Tonya Hall is listed as the initial buyer on 10 Sandwich properties purchased in 2006. Tonya Mah is listed as the initial buyer on three properties on Bloomfield Road and College Avenue in the spring of 2007. All of these properties were later transferred to either 2094422 Ontario Ltd. or 608261 Ontario Inc. for $0.

Industrial and commercial properties

The following companies turn up in the ownership history of Moroun’s industrial and commercial real estate in Windsor:

DuraRock Underwriters Ltd. – The vast majority of Moroun’s real estate transactions are done with cash. However, he has taken mortgages out on a few of his industrial and commercial properties in Windsor through DuraRock Underwriters Ltd. The address listed for the company on the mortgage documents is the same as the address for bridge company headquarters. Matty Moroun’s son Matthew is chairman of the similarly named DuraRock Reinsurance.

Central-McKinlay International Ltd. – Central-McKinlay is the name of one of Moroun’s trucking companies. A corporate search for this company names Peter Farah as the administrator of Central-McKinlay International Ltd. Farah is also a director of the Moroun-affiliated numbered companies 2087341 Ontario Inc. and 2094422 Ontario Ltd. and has a LinkedIn profile where he identifies himself as the chief financial officer of the bridge company.

MJM First Ltd. Partnership – A corporate search lists this company’s address as 12225 Stephens Rd. in Warren, Mich., which is bridge company headquarters.

5973 Corp. – An agent of MJM First Ltd. Partnership, according to a corporate search. MJM and 5973 Corp. often appear in the ownership histories as joint owners.

Mohawk Service Corp. – One of Moroun’s trucking companies.

Properties Management Inc. – A property transfer document describes Properties Management Inc. as a “general partner as to a 1% interest carrying on business as MJM First Limited Partnership.” The address listed is the same as the address for bridge company headquarters in Warren, Mich.

Transportation Assist Corp. – This company appears in the ownership history of a single property at Industrial and Ambassador Drives. The address listed in the property transfer document is the same as the address for bridge company headquarters in Warren, Mich.

Truck Realty LP – According to property documents, Truck Realty LP is the name the Canadian Transit Company and Central-McKinlay International, Ltd. are using for “carrying on business in partnership.” Truck Realty LP appears in the ownership history of property the bridge company owns at Devon Drive, just east of the Devonshire Mall.

Sandwich Entity – This company appears on property documents for commercial land the bridge company owns at 4000-4020 Sandwich St. Sandwich Entity bought the land in partnership with The Canadian Transit Company and Central-McKinlay International Ltd. in 2002.

Universal Am-Can, Ltd. – One of Moroun’s trucking companies.

GLS Leaseco Canada: Some of the property transactions list Universal Am-Can, Ltd. as “Carrying on business as GLS Leaseco Canada.”

Riverside Entity LP –This company appears in the ownership history of some of Moroun’s land on Riverside Drive East. A corporate search lists Central-McKinlay International as general partner and Michael Carlone, who is also a director of companies involved in Moroun’s residential purchases, as signatory.

1552875 Ontario Inc. – This company is listed in the ownership history of 8040 Riverside Dr. E. The company’s address is the same as the address for bridge company headquarters.

Leon Paroian – The late, well-known Windsor lawyer Leon Paroian’s firm facilitated a number of bridge company real estate transactions in Windsor. Paroian is listed as the initial buyer of 7880, 7910 and 7940 Riverside Dr. E. in 2001.

Originally posted in the Windsor Star