The 84-seat Prime Steakhouse Restaurant and Lounge in the Magnolia Hotel and Spa in downtown Victoria closed Sunday.
On Monday, the restaurant’s president was fined $8,000 for not filing multiple tax returns on time.
Philip LeSeur pleaded guilty in Victoria provincial court for failing to file corporate income tax returns and financial information for Victoria Prime Steakhouse Ltd., 0770003 B.C. Ltd., Bear Mountain Village Market Ltd., Nirvana Land Development Ltd., and 0665821 B.C. Ltd., Canada Revenue Agency said in a statement Wednesday. All businesses failed to file corporate returns for the 2008 and 2009 taxation years.
In addition, Nirvana Land Development Ltd. and 0665821 B.C. Ltd., also failed to file returns for 2007 and 0770003 B.C. Ltd. failed to file returns for 2006 and 2007.
LeSeur, former chief financial officer for the Bear Mountain development, was fined $8,000 and given six months to pay the fine. All returns have now been filed, the agency said.
Leseur was originally charged with 15 counts of failing to file his returns on time. He pleaded guilty to eight counts involving the multiple corporations over several years.
The Crown stayed the remaining seven counts.
Failing to file income tax on time is a regulatory offence, not a criminal offence, under the Income Tax Act.
Judge Michael Hubbard fined Leseur $1,000 for each offence and gave him until July 15 to pay the fines. Hubbard reminded Leseur of the importance of citizens filing their income tax returns on time.
The restaurant and a lounge area were operated by Prime, which contracted the space from the Magnolia Hotel. LeSeur told staff on Sunday that the restaurant was closing.
“It’s a big shocker,” said a former employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“There were a lot of tears at the staff meeting especially given it’s right after Christmas.”
About 20 staff have lost their jobs. Some have already found other employment, some have been paid out and there are others waiting for final payments.
Victoria Prime Steakhouse Ltd. is categorized as “not in good standing,” according to the B.C. corporate registry service.
The company was incorporated in 2008.
Its most recent annual report was filed in August 2011.
That report listed LeSeur as Prime’s president and Belmiro Almeida as its secretary.
In a February 2012 notice filed with the company’s office, Almeida’s name was removed as a director of Prime, leaving LeSeur as the only director listed.
Prime had its roots in 2008 when long-time restaurateur Almeida partnered with LeSeur, then vice-president of legal and corporate affairs for the Bear Mountain Partnership, and others.
LeSeur could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The restaurant is expected to re-open shortly, said Marisa Hawksworth, of Vancouver’s Hawksworth Communications, speaking for the Magnolia, which is located at 623 Courtenay St.
“The Magnolia Hotel and Spa owners are completing some upgrades to the space, as this is historically the slowest time of the year.
“Upon reopening, there will be some re-structuring that will take place and we hope to announce details very soon,” said Hawksworth.
The hotel is not releasing any further information regarding Prime, she said.
This 64-room luxury hotel uses the lounge for its breakfast service and that is continuing.
Hotel improvements include a full guestroom refurbishment, due for completion by early March, Hawksworth said.
— With files from Louise Dickson and Cindy E. Harnett
© Copyright 2013