September 29, 2017 10:18 am

Vancouver tech start up, Istuary, accused of mishandling documents

A Vancouver company accused of not paying its employees for months is also accused of using investors’ money to buy multi-million dollar homes in Metro Vancouver. Nadia Stewart reports.

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The founder of Istuary, a Vancouver tech start up, is being sued by disgruntled investors who claim he and his wife owe them millions of dollars.

Ethan Sun and his wife, Yulan Hu, are being accused of taking money intended for their company and instead using it purchase multi-million dollar properties in Metro Vancouver.

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The plaintiffs, Bo Jia, Kaibin Li and Weining Zhong, all Chinese investors living in B.C., claim they handed over thousands of dollars, believing promises they’d get back about five times what they invested. Instead, they claim the money was spent on real estate, “used to pay the down payments, mortgages and other indebtedness.”

Two Coquitlam properties are named in the suit: one has Yi An Sun as the registered owner. The other, names Yulan Hu. Both homes appear to be vacant.

The court documents also allege “…Istuary was merely used as a sham by which the personal defendants used to defraud and misappropriate the plaintiffs’ funds.”

It’s the latest development uncovered following complaints from employees who also claim they’ve been left in the lurch.

READ MORE: Employees at Vancouver tech startup say they haven’t been paid in months

A response to these claims has not yet been filed. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Global News has made repeated attempts to contact members of Istuary’s management team, but has received no response.

More than just photo ops

Meanwhile, photos of a smiling Ethan Sun standing beside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are posted on the company’s website. The picture was taken last year, at the 38th annual Canada China Business Council General Meeting. According to one of Istuary’s former marketing directors, pictures with politicians were about more than just photo ops.

“It’s about esteem, it’s about prestige,” Al Leong says. “It’s about a certain level of confidence they were doing the right thing so that validated the company in the eyes of Chinese investors.”

Leong is not among the 122 unpaid workers. Still, he’s raising concerns about their future.

“There may not be recourse for these employees. It’s unfortunate,” Leong says.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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