Local drama in Honduras

A Kelowna man is back in town and wants to clear his name after a Honduras business deal gone wrong. But, the other party involved says he's making things up.

In January 2017, JC Rathwell, a former candidate for Kelowna city council, told Castanet he partnered with Sylvain “Buck” Laroche in 2016 on a scooter rental company in the Caribbean before things went sour, leading to criminal harassment charges against Laroche.

Laroche, who denied comment in Castanet's original story, now claims the dispute actually began in November 2015, after he handed $10,000 over to Rathwell for a down payment on a condo at Las Palmas Beach Resort in Roatan that had yet to be built.

By April 2016, Laroche says the condo was not ready, but that Rathwell told him he had a place he could rent in Roatan, and offered Laroche the opportunity to run his scooter business there as well.

“I did run the scooter business for him for a while,” Laroche said.

Laroche provided Castanet with a copy of a sales agreement. But, Rathwell's lawyer, William Clarke, says the documents are “utterly and completely not correct or true," and there was never any condo deal. 

Laroche claims Rothwell offered to give him the scooter business in lieu of the $10,000, until he was able to get his money. In August, when the scooter business licence was up for renewal, Laroche says the business hadn't been signed over to him, and he couldn't renew the licence. He says police took the scooters away as they were unlicensed.

Laroche says he then started posting to Facebook to “express that I wasn't happy.” That led to harassment charges in Roatan over defamatory and threatening comments.

“He just unleashed a fury of three months of nasty emails on Facebook on me and my family,” Rathwell said in January 2017. “It was absolutely brutal the things he posted.”

“I said, 'I'm taking you to court or I'm going to take you to the hospital, one or the other.' I was getting a little bit upset and I might have said things that could be taken as threatening,” Laroche admitted.

Now, Laroche says the condos have been built, but they look nothing like the concepts he was shown, calling them “chicken coops.” He says he has filed a lawsuit against Rathwell in Roatan.

“I just want to get my money back,” he said.

Rathwell denies all of Laroche's claims.

“The matter has already been litigated favourably to the benefit of (Mr. Rathwell) in the courts of Honduras,” Clarke said, adding he hasn't heard anything about a lawsuit against his client in Honduras.

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