Family charged with staging hate crime has faced lawsuits, financial challenges

WINNIPEG — Family members who have denied police accusations that they staged an anti-Semitic attack at their Winnipeg cafe have faced financial troubles, including a six-figure lawsuit from a lender.

Court records show Oxana and Alexander Berent were ordered last August to pay $112,358 to the Business Development Bank of Canada for a design company the couple owned north of Winnipeg.

Court documents show the bank had loaned the couple $150,000 in 2014 and had only received $40,000 in repayments. The case ended in a default judgment in favour of the bank.

More recently, the couple’s son, Maxim Berent, was sued by the Royal Bank for $43,000 that the bank said he owed on a credit card. That statement of claim was filed this week. The allegation has not been tested in court and Berent has not responded to it.

The three family members are owners of BerMax Caffe and Bistro, where police investigated a report last week of a hate crime that shocked many in the city.

The business was vandalized and spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti last Thursday — the night before Passover. Oxana Berent also reported being assaulted.

Six days later, police said they believed the whole event was staged. The three Berents were charged with public mischief and released on a promise to appear in court in May.

Attempts to reach the Berents by The Canadian Press have been unsuccessful.

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