Court Orders Freeze of Canadian 'Freedom Convoy' Crypto Fundraising

The funds in over 120 crypto addresses were ordered frozen by a special injunction by an Ontario court.

AccessTimeIconFeb 18, 2022 at 2:17 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:48 p.m. UTC

A private class action lawsuit against participants in Canada's "freedom convoy" has successfully secured an injunction freezing funds raised via crypto donations.

A Mareva injunction was signed on Thursday by Ontario Superior Court of Justice Judge Calum MacLeod and freezes crypto assets in more than 120 different addresses tied to BTC, ADA, ETH, LTC and XMR. A Mareva injunction is a court order used in the U.K. and Canada that freezes a defendant's assets in order to prevent them from being spent, hidden or moved before a judgment is ordered.

The suit also directs several financial institutions, platforms and exchanges to freeze any transactions related to the identified addresses' wallets. The financial institutions include TD Canada Trust and ATB Financial, and the fundraising platforms and websites include GoFundMe and GiveSendGo. Digital assets platforms and exchanges listed were Bull Bitcoin, TallyCoin, BitBuy, Shakepay, Satoshi Portal, Bylls, Binance Smartchain, PancakeSwap and Nunchuk.

The suit, brought by Zexi Li, Happy Goat Coffee Inc. and Geoffrey Devaney, sought to freeze assets raised by Alan Warnock, Tamara Lich, Benjamin Dichter, Patrick King, Christopher Garrah and Nicholas St. Louis.

"This court orders that the Mareva Respondents and their servants, employees, agents, assigns, officers, directors and anyone else acting on their behalf or in conjunction with any of them, and any and all persons with notice of this Order, are restrained from directly or indirectly, by any means whatsoever: (a) selling, removing, dissipating, alienating, transferring, assigning, encumbering, or similarly dealing with the assets of the Mareva Respondents listed in Schedule 'A'; (b) instructing, requesting, counselling, demanding, or encouraging any other person to conduct themselves contrary to paragraph 2(a) above; and (c) facilitating, assisting in, aiding, abetting, or participating in any acts the effect of which is to contrary to paragraph 2(a) above, until final disposition of this action or further Order of this Court," the filing said.

The respondents have a week to respond to the court, explaining what their assets are for, whether they own the assets and to "submit to an examination under oath."

Pat King, one of the alleged organizers of the Freedom Convoy and one of the named parties in the Mareva order, was apparently arrested by Ottawa police on Friday while livestreaming on Facebook. King is the third organizer to be arrested, after the earlier arrests of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.

The plaintiffs in the case all say they were personally affected by the convoy.

Henry Assad, the owner of Happy Goat Coffee Company, told Canadian media that he had to temporarily close three locations due to smashed windows and ongoing harassment of his employees.

Ivan Gedz of Union Local 613 told reporters that his business is down 25-50% because the protests are keeping customers away from downtown Ottawa.

Geoffrey Devaney, another plaintiff in the suit, has reportedly been out of work since the protests started. Zexi Li alleges she was threatened by a trucker when she took a photograph of his license plate.

The news comes days after the Canadian government froze 34 crypto addresses in connection with the ongoing trucker protests, which blocked bridges and border crossings into the U.S. in defiance of Canada's vaccine mandate, under the nation's Emergencies Act.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was also ordering exchanges to freeze certain addresses.

"The names of both individuals and entities as well as crypto wallets have been shared by the RCMP with financial institutions and accounts have been frozen and more accounts will be frozen," she said.

Aoyon Ashraf and Cheyenne Ligon contributed reporting.

UPDATE (Feb. 18, 14:29 UTC): Adds description of a Mareva Injunction.

UPDATE (Feb. 18, 14:43 UTC): Changes headline to clarify the freeze was ordered by a court; crypto wallets are controlled by private key holders, whose cooperation would be required. Adds list of financial institutions, platforms and exchanges affected.

UPDATE (Feb. 18, 15:05 UTC): Adds additional context, corrects certain spelling errors.

UPDATE (Feb. 18, 18:25 UTC): Adds information about apparent arrest of Pat King.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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