The Travel Industry Council of Ontario is reporting its latest convictions for Travel Industry Act violations by a pair of Ontario travel agencies.
Toronto-based Esna Travel, along with Ghulam Mustafa Wahabi and Rollah Zahir, are facing convictions on a number of charges, which stem from customer complaints in November 2014. According to TICO, several consumers who booked 2014 Hajj tour packages never received travel services after making cash and cheque payments. Esna Travel was registered as a travel agent and travel wholesaler until Jan. 18, 2016, when it voluntarily terminated its registration, while Wahabi and Zahir have never been registered as travel agents.
TICO laid charges against all parties involved, in what it described as “a complex prosecution, which resulted in the most comprehensive restitution paid to consumers.” All consumers who made a claim to the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund were reimbursed in full. A total of $290,100 was reimbursed to consumers through the Fund, Esna Travel and Wahabi. The Fund paid $142,300, of which $50,000 will be recovered through the restitution paid by Zahir.
The total sentence, imposed on all parties includes:
- Fines, including Victim Fine Surcharge (VFS), totaling $47,500,
- Restitution of $197,800, and
- Probation Order
In an unrelated matter, 501159 Ontario Limited, operating as Ottawa-based Executive Worldwide Travel, and Zakaria Sheikh each pleaded guilty and were convicted of two counts of failing to hold customer funds in trust. Sheikh was manager and president of Executive Worldwide, a registered travel agent under the Act, which voluntarily terminated its registration effective July 13, 2015. The Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund paid $56,390.10 to reimburse consumers who paid Executive Worldwide for travel services not provided.
The following sentence was imposed in relation to both counts:
- Fine in the amount of $7,000 plus Victim Surcharge Fees, for a total of $8,750;
- Probation Order for two years;
- Free Standing Restitution of $39,735.38 payable to TICO.
- Restitution, in the amount of CAD$13,656.77 and USD$2,290.85 payable to TICO.
- Fine of $5,000, per count, for a total of $10,000 plus Victim Surcharge Fees.