Nearly $8 million in ‘Freedom Convoy’ donations still untraceable, documents show

The convoy protest in Ottawa raised more than $20 million during its three-week occupation of the city’s downtown. Documents filed in court show how protest organizers spent their money and how much remains unspent or unaccounted for.

A report filed by KSV Restructuring Inc., the third-party agent overseeing the recovered money, shows it holds just under $2 million of the approximately $24 million raised by various campaigns supporting the weeks of occupation of streets in downtown Ottawa.

This GIF breaks down the $24 million raised for the Winter 2022 ‘Freedom Convoy’, about half through the GiveSendGo website. (Radio Canada)

Most of the money in escrow came from Tamara Lich, the leader of the convoy who had access to the majority of the money through her role in organizing the protest, for which she has since been charged. The crowdfunding efforts she led raised nearly $10.1 million from 120,000 donors before donations were suspended.

The website used to collect that money, GoFundMe, then returned most of those funds to the original donors beginning Feb. 5, the company said.

“All refunds were initiated through our payment processing partner, including all transaction processing fees and tips, and these funds were returned to donors within days,” he said in a statement. communicated.

The nearly $1.4 million that remained in Lich’s possession was transferred into escrow and represents the bulk of the more than $1.5 million held by KSV Restructuring.

The money used to fund the convoy protest came from various online fundraisers and included cryptocurrency. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

It’s unclear where the GiveSendGo funds went

It’s unclear where most of the money raised through GiveSendGo went. Fundraisers launched on the US site have raised more than $12 million.

Recently filed court documents show that $4.25 million is held by a payment processing company, but the remaining $7.75 million is missing.

(Radio Canada)

In a March 9 court appearance, GiveSendGo co-founder and chief financial officer Jacob Wells said donations would be returned to donors.

Some GiveSendGo donors confirmed to CBC that they had received a refund, while others said they had not.

Asked by CBC, the company declined to disclose the total amount refunded to donors.

Two fundraisers on the site were tasked with raising funds for the protests: the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser raised nearly $12.2 million from nearly 113,000 donations, while a second fundraiser Adopt a Trucker raised $739,308.87 from 8,375 donations.

No more crypto captured, most still evading capture

Approximately $419,316 in digital currency was transferred into escrow between March 7 and March 22 by three class action respondents. The remaining digital currency collected through convoy fundraisers continues to elude authorities.

The main account associated with the protesters raised 20.7 bitcoins (worth almost C$1.1 million), but as of March 29 only 7.6 bitcoins (worth C$419,316) had been secured by the Escrow Agent.

Nicholas St. Louis, Ottawa resident and self-proclaimed crypto organizer, handed an envelope containing what he said was information for $8,000 in bitcoins to a protester during a Feb. 16 live stream. (Youtube)

Most of the digital currency has been drained from its original source, a self-proclaimed top crypto organizer posting videos of himself passing access information directly to convoy supporters in downtown Ottawa.

Following court documents and bitcoin movements online, CBC News pieced together a partial but elaborate web of transactions where large sums were scattered across hundreds of virtual wallets.

Authorities are believed to be tracking the movements of these wallets, but the identity of those who received them remains largely unknown to the public.

Details on how Lich handled convoy funds

In a sworn statement filed in court, Lich said she was involved in creating the crowdfunding campaign for the “Freedom Convoy” on the GoFundMe platform.

She said she used a personal TD bank account, which had no balance, as the designated account to hold the funds donated to GoFundMe.

An email address was created to accept donations, which also went into a personal account belonging to him. At the time, she was the only person with access to donations.

In late January, a ‘finance committee’ was formed and protest organizers, including Lich, put together a ‘freedom convoy code of conduct’, ‘letter to captains’ and registration form. to participate in the demonstration.

On January 30, organizers sought to further formalize the “Freedom Convoy” by incorporating a nonprofit, Freedom Corp.

Convoy protest organizer Tamara Lich speaks with police liaison officers just days before her arrest and charge. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

When GoFundMe released $1 million in donated funds on Feb. 2, it did so in Lich’s personal account that she designated for the protest.

Lich’s affidavit states that “this was done because Freedom Corp. did not have a bank account and time was critical to begin funding those for whom we collected donations.”

Two days after sending her $1 million, GoFundMe said it closed the campaign, citing violations of its rules on violence and harassment, with any remaining donations being returned directly to individual donors.

Lich said the same day she received the GoFundMe money, a “suspension” was placed on her account associated with the Freedom Convoy. She said the bank did not block the money from being deposited into the account, but the funds could not be withdrawn.

While she had access to money provided by GoFundMe, Lich said she made about $26,000 in trades.

She spent $13,000 on bulk fuel purchases and another $13,000 was “withdrawn in cash and used for various purposes,” she said.