July 21, 2024

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Frank Stronach, the auto parts magnate facing five charges including sexual assault and rape, arrived in Canada with very little money but big dreams.

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Stronach, born in Austria in 1932, grew up in a working class family while the country was under Nazi rule. He left school at 14 to work as a tool and die maker. He was also semi-professional soccer player.

In his early 20s, Stronach immigrated to Canada with around $200 and three years later, in 1957, opened a one-man auto parts venture in a rented garage in Toronto that would be later named Magna International.

The company, which grew rapidly after securing a contract from General Motors two years later, is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world with more than 179,000 employees in 28 countries and sales of more than C$58 billion (US$42 billion).

Stronach is also regarded as a champion thoroughbred owner and breeder.

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In 1988, Stronach had his first taste of politics as a federal Liberal Party candidate in the York—Simcoe riding, but lost to John Cole of the Progressive Conservatives.

In 2011, he returned to his native Austria to enter the political fray, suggesting reforms to taxes, health, and education.

That same year, Stronach and his daughter Belinda founded The Stronach Group, an entertainment and real estate company that included horse racing and a pari-mutuel wagering technology company.

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However, in October 2018, five years after he resigned as trustee to officially run for office in Austria, the billionaire mogul and his wife Elfriede filed a $520-million lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court against his daughter Belinda Stronach — who he appointed to run the family business — her two children and chief executive at the time Alon Ossip.

Stronach alleged that, after he gave up control of the company, they mismanaged the family’s assets and conspired to wrest ownership from him.

Less than two years later, the Stronach family announced a settlement that saw the company split up. The business titan took control of the stallion and breeding business, all North American farms and all European assets.

Belinda remained chairwoman and president of The Stronach Group, which included its horse racing, gaming, real estate and related assets.

In 1999, Stronach was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

In March, Stronach’s wife of 60 years Elfriede, a dedicated horse advocate, died at the age of 80 after battling an illness.

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