I will paraphrase from a private e-mail I received this weekend from someone who has followed this adventure for some time and who works in a position related to bankruptcy and collections but wishes to remain anonymous so I will call him simply, "my adviser". So here's what I've been (very informally) advised.
As you all know, Patrick has already been served (pursuant to Saskatchewan's "Enforcement of Money Judgments Act" (EMJA) with a voluntary Sheriff's questionnaire, requesting that he describe in some detail his current financial situation. And as long as my calculations are correct, Patrick's deadline to fill out that form and return it is today. But my adviser is adamant that, no matter what Patrick provides on that form, it is now critical that I take whatever is there with a massive grain of salt given the possible development described above.
You see, it's totally expected that, when a creditor is trying to collect, a debtor will do everything possible to shift assets around -- you look here, they move their assets over there, and so on. And everyone understands it's all a game. But the possibility that Patrick owned (or had inherited) considerable property, and turned around and quietly sold it (and subsequently never reported it), is truly a game changer, as that would almost certainly rise to the level of misconduct and fraud. But it doesn't end there.
If the alleged Ross family farm was (as I had heard) jointly inherited/owned by Patrick's immediate family members, and was sold in its entirety, that would mean that those family members signed off on that sale knowing that Patrick was bankrupt and had no right to sell his share. That is the game changer here -- that not only did Patrick possibly sell off assets that no longer belonged to him, but that his family members aided and abetted this, which raises the possibility of ... I don't know what you'd call it ... conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud? Who the hell knows at this point? But it's now a distinct possibility that Patrick has dragged his siblings into this mess and opened them up to charges.
And that's why my adviser is adamant that, regardless of what Patrick provides on his questionnaire, I do nothing until I take the time to really dig into this. And this strikes me as eminently sound advice; after all, I am in no rush, and Patrick is not going anywhere, given that he is firmly mired in bankruptcy with no way out.
Oh, and my adviser suggests one more thing. Normally, if a bankrupt wanted out of bankruptcy, there is always one guaranteed way out -- just pay the creditor(s) the full amount of what you owe them, at which point it's over and you can get on with your life. But it's not clear that that would work here anymore since, if there was actual fraud and misconduct, simply paying me off would not get Patrick (or possibly his siblings) off the hook from possible (criminal?) charges.
In short, regardless of what Patrick decides, it seems likely that this is going to drag on considerably longer as I step back and consider my options which may or may not involve any of the Sheriffs of Saskatchewan, Canada's Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and maybe even the RCMP. Oh, and Patrick's siblings as well.
I will keep you posted.
P.S. Back in December, Patrick Ross was huffing and puffing furiously about how not just he, but his entire family, were considering filing actions against me for -- I'm not sure -- defamation, or harassment, or being mean to them, or whatever the hell. I have yet to hear from any of them, but if they want to go down that road and open themselves up to the subsequent questioning under oath about any or all of the above, I'm totally fine with that. It would certainly save me the trouble of having to chase them.