Alleging fraud, Beneteau files suit against Canadian dealer

Thu Apr 20 2017, 15:36 PM

Beneteau says Hillman Yacht Sales hid US$2.15m from sales of new Beneteau yachts as it spiraled into bankruptcy

Beneteau America Inc has filed a lawsuit against a former dealer in Vancouver, British Columbia, alleging fraud, breach of contract and breach of trust. Beneteau claims that RL Hillman & Company owed it US$2.15m for inventory sold by the dealer before it went bankrupt.

Beneteau signed a dealership agreement with Hillman Yacht Sales in September 2012. Owner Ronald Hillman initially financed the Beneteau sailboats through unrelated dealers. The lawsuit said he “expanded rapidly” over the next two years. In 2014, the dealership had financial problems because of a “looming financial crisis” and “aggressive expansion efforts,” according to the court papers.

The dealer soon hit its lending limit with both financiers. Beneteau said that Hillman combining personal and business assets without following “any of the usual corporate formalities.”

In 2015, the lawsuit alleges that Hillman sold five Beneteau vessels and kept the proceeds for himself without informing Beneteau. Hillman later met with Beneteau’s president and disclosed the financial problems. But he failed to disclose that he was in default with his lenders and did not have the personal assets to cover the dealership’s debts. Beneteau said it relied upon Hillman’s assurance that he had enough money to keep the business afloat.

The dealership went into receivership. In September 2015, it went into bankruptcy. Beneteau is seeking damages for fraud, breach of contract and breach of trust.

Hillman has not filed a response yet to the allegations.