Vic De Zen is contributing $10 million to a 350-bed hospital to be built in Vaughan, Ont., where several of his business holdings are clustered. In addition to real estate, De Zen’s Zzen Group owns several plastic extrusion plants in the city, making window frames, doors, decking and railings and employing about 2,500 people. De Zen is also donating $1.25 million for a facility in Vaughan for people with developmental disabilities, to be known as the James De Zen Centre of Abilities. It’s named after his son, who died in 2015 at the age of 46 while on vacation in Las Vegas.
While certainly charitable, De Zen has become known for his colourful financial dealings, too. A CBC investigation in 2017 uncovered that De Zen, among other wealthy Canadians, was involved in a tax dodging scheme initiated by KPMG on the Isle of Man in 1999. The CRA had offered amnesty to the clients involved—a topic of much criticism. There hasn’t been a full inquiry into the alleged scandal and there’s currently none scheduled. Then, back in 2010, Royal Group Technologies, the plastics maker he founded in 1970, faced fraud charges related to two business transactions but was found not guilty. In the meantime, De Zen sold the company to Georgia Gulf Corp. in 2006 for $1.6 billion. In turn, Georgia Gulf closed or sold many of its Canadian operations, prompting De Zen to start Vision Group to rebuild what had been lost and give former employees a place to work. But he’s not just repeating a proven formula—Zzen Group is also a major developer, with holdings in the Toronto area and a resort in St. Kitts.
Updated Thursday, November 9, 2017