Examining the Corporate Shell Game behind Pemberton’s Cancellation
Opinions / June 8, 2017
Thousands of ticket buyers left twisting in the wind after Pemberton Music Festival bankruptcy
Braden Klassen, Contributor
The Pemberton Music festival has been cancelled due to bankruptcy, and the head festival organizers have decided not to issue automatic refunds to the thousands of people who paid for tickets. Instead, the majority of the revenue generated by ticket sales is going to end up in the pockets of the four festival directors who cancelled the event.
Ineptly running a high-profile company into bankruptcy is one thing, but using bankruptcy laws as a shield to hide behind after defrauding thousands of people out of millions of dollars is something else entirely, and these people need to be held to account.
Despite already having received $6 million worth of revenue from tickets, the directors of the corporate partnership in charge of the festival set up their bankruptcy in a way that prioritized the compensation of “secured creditors” over anyone else.
The corporate partnership consists of Pemberton Music Festival L.P. and 1115666 B.C. Ltd. On paper they owe unsecured creditors $13.2 million dollars, while the secured creditors get almost $3.6 million.
Suspiciously, directors Amanda Girling, Jeremy Turner, Jim Dales, and Stéphane Lescure decided that the only companies that had qualified to be considered secured creditors were Janspec Holdings Ltd.—of which Girling is listed as CEO—and 1644609 Alberta Ltd. What’s more is that 1115666 B.C. Ltd. is directed by Lescure, Girling, and Dales and was only incorporated on April 19, replacing PMFLP’s previous general partner Twisted Tree Circus. The three directors then left their positions on May 12, less than a week before the company declared bankruptcy.
Perhaps the most implicating fact about this whole situation is that, while the directors were busy coordinating this slippery corporate shell game, they were still selling tickets until the day they filed bankruptcy.
The deceit of cancelling Pemberton without issuing refunds has been compared to the now legendary failure of the Fyre Festival in May, the organizers of which have become the target of multiple class-action lawsuits and a federal investigation.
Hopefully, those behind Pemberton’s cancellation will share a similar fate.
Since their bankruptcy declaration, PMFLP and 1115666 B.C. Ltd. have chosen accounting firm Ernst & Young Inc. as their trustee in handling this mess. They are currently suggesting that ticket holders issue a chargeback on their credit card or fill out a lengthy file of claim and submit it to the firm. However, if you’re one of the thousands of people who have been screwed over by this ordeal and you don’t feel like jumping through Ernst & Young’s legal hoops or waiting for your chargeback to be approved, your situation might not be entirely hopeless.
There have been a few instances of outside parties stepping in to help refund or otherwise compensate those who purchased Pemberton tickets. Vancity Credit Union announced that they would be refunding people who purchased tickets with Vancity or Citizenbank Visas. People who purchased their tickets from The Meadows golf course in Pemberton are also eligible to receive refunds.
The Tall Tree Music Festival in Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island has said that they would admit the first 250 Pemberton ticket holders that attend their festival, as did the WayHome Festival in Ontario.
It’s nice to see that there are some people out there who are trying to make things right with disappointed would-be festival goers. It’s just a shame that it’s not the people in charge of the festival itself.