Sunday, January 16, 2022

Grand River Enterprises (GRE)

Peter Montour, Mike Tyson, Jerry Montour
Ken Hill was the co-founder, along with Jerry Montour and his father Peter, of Grand River Enterprises in 1993. They turned GRE into a global player in the cigarette trade. By 2004 sales were $202m. 10 years later it exceeded a billion. It costs less than 24 cents to make a pack of 20 cigarettes which sell for 40 times that.
The company is the largest employer on the Six Nations reserve.

Tobacco is a $10b a year industry in Canada alone. The key to GRE's success is Section 87 of the Indian Act. Goods made and sold on reserves, including cigarettes, are exempt from tax. This lowers costs, giving those who sell Indigenous cigarettes a huge financial advantage.
According to court documents Ken Hill paid no income tax on his self-reported income of $5.3m in 2013 because of Indian Act exemptions. Brittany Beaver, mother of his son who received a court order for child support of $33k a month from Hill, was trying to determine his wealth. Hill eventually revealed his car collection was valued at $5.58m, his 2010 Lazzara 76-foot yacht worth $2.76m and his Sea Ray Sundancer, $939k. He had a private jet leased, naturally. Hill had five other children by four different women — Joshua, Ryan, Jasmine, Gabriella and Jordan. Ken Hill died suddenly in January 2021 at age 62.
Jerry Montour held the greatest share of GRE at 30 per cent. In 1988, Peter and Jerry Montour were convicted of conspiracy to import pot and were sentenced to jail in Canada. The father and son were described as the key players in a drug smuggling operation that arranged to have 37 kg of pot transported from Mexico to Canada. Peter Montour and another man were also charged in 1988 with attempting to import marijuana but the charges against Montour were dropped when the other man offered to act as a police informant to help solve a cold case murder. Peter Montour was convicted of cigarette smuggling in 1997 and fined $640k, believed to be the largest penalty ever for smuggling in Ontario.
In 1997, Peter Montour and two other men were charged with extortion and uttering death threats in an alleged attempt to extort $4m from a former Oakville businessman. The charges were eventually stayed.

GRE and four of its shareholders pursued a $3 billion lawsuit against Ottawa for forcing them to incorporate and lose their tax-exempt status. Ultimately, the partners decided they wouldn’t risk prison. GRE agreed to incorporate and pay excise taxes, and in 1997 it received its licence.
The State of California sued GRE in 2017. The state alleges GRE failed to comply with tobacco sales laws and illegally sold cigarettes. The lawsuit is the latest in a list launched by U.S. states against the company. GRE was sued by Ohio — a lawsuit that ended in 2011, when GRE paid close to $1m. New York also sued GRE.
See ----->1 in 3 cigarettes sold in Ontario are contraband
See ----->Smoking out Canada’s illegal tobacco