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BSCS Panel: Notary Public Rashida Samji committed $100 million fraud

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BSCS Panel: Notary Public Rashida Samji committed $100 million fraud

A British Columbia Securities Commission panel has found that a Vancouver woman and two companies she controlled committed a $100 million fraud.

The panel found that between approximately 2003 and January 2012, Rashida Samji, a former notary public, perpetrated a fraud when she traded securities to 200 or more investors for proceeds of at least $100 million.

The panel found that Samji ran a Ponzi scheme. She told investors that she would hold their money in trust and that it would be used only to secure letters of comfort for the financing of a British Columbia winery. Investors were to earn fees for securing the letters of credit.

Instead, the panel found, the so-called investment was “one big lie” and “a monumental deceit”. There was no winery involved, no letters of comfort, nor any fees. Samji did not hold investors’ money in trust, but used it to pay returns to other investors, and for her own use.

The panel dismissed fraud allegations relating to falsified mortgages.

The panel directed the parties to make submissions on sanctions according to the schedule set out in the findings.

LAST November Samji was charged with 28 counts of fraud and theft following an investigation into a multi-million dollar ponzi scheme by the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) supported by the Vancouver Police Department that started in February 2012.

It was alleged that between January 1, 2010, and August 31, 2012, about $40 million was obtained fraudulently from over 100 victims.

These charges represent $17 million dollars that was allegedly defrauded from 14 individuals between 2006 and 2012. This is part of a larger fraud that allegedly stretches back to 2003, according to the RCMP.

On November 6, the 28 charges of fraud and theft were sworn against Samji and on November 7, she was taken into custody without incident while leaving her residence. She was released on a $100,000 no-deposit surety and 13 bail conditions.

The trial has been scheduled for April 2015.

LAST September, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow certified a law suit against Samji and several financial institutions over the alleged Ponzi scheme as a class proceeding.

According to the ruling posted on the court’s website: “The plaintiffs allege Ms. Samji operated a fraudulent investment scheme known as the “Mark Anthony Investment.” Ms. Samji described the scheme to potential investors as a private investment opportunity to earn a guaranteed return. The money would be paid into her notary public trust account, where it would remain and would be used to assist the Mark Anthony Group (a reputable firm in the beverage distribution industry) in its business as an importer-exporter in the beverage industry. It was described as involving subsidiaries of the Mark Anthony Group in Chile and South Africa. At the end of a six-month period, the funds could be returned or the investment could be rolled over. The minimum investment ranged from $50,000 to $100,000.

“The plaintiffs and the proposed class members placed their money in trust with Ms. Samji by signing a “Letter of Direction” to “Samji & Associates,” the name under which Ms. Samji carried on her notary practice. The Letters of Direction which have been appended to the plaintiffs’ affidavits directed that the funds would be placed and would remain “in trust,” and would not be moved without specific direction from the investor.

“In reality, there was no legitimate investment opportunity. The “Mark Anthony Investment” scheme promoted by Ms. Samji had no affiliation with the Mark Anthony Group. Nor did Ms. Samji deposit the funds into any trust account for the benefit of any business operation. Instead, the invested funds were deposited by Ms. Samji in her general or personal account, or in the Samji Holdings’ account. The funds were then used for the general benefit of the Samji defendants and to make payments to investors in the scheme without the knowledge or authorization of the investors.

“As a result of investing in the scheme, the plaintiffs and proposed class have suffered loss and damage.”

Regarding Patel, the ruling noted: “Mr. Patel was a financial advisor employed by Coast Capital. He was also a mutual fund dealing representative for Worldsource. In the course of providing professional investment services to clients of Coast Capital and Worldsource, including the plaintiffs Lawrence and Jun Jer, Mr. Patel recommended the scheme as an investment opportunity to them. Mr. Patel also recommended the scheme to other employees of Coast Capital.

“As a registered mutual funds dealing representative of Worldsource, under the Securities Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 418, and related enactments, and National Instrument 31-103 Registration Requirements, Exemptions and Ongoing Registrant Obligations, B.C. Reg. 226A/2009, Mr. Patel was restricted to trading in only a limited class of investment funds. The scheme was not an authorized security for the purpose of the Securities Act, and Mr. Patel was not authorized to promote it to clients.”

The judge noted: “The defendants all assert that the issues are not common and therefore the class proceeding is not preferable.

“However, I have determined there are common issues involving each of the defendants. While the defendants argue the common issues are negligible in relation to the individual issues, I have determined that the common issues identified by the plaintiffs will in fact determine issues that are common to all of the proposed class members’ claims, and will move the litigation forward.”

SAMJI became a notary public in 1988. In 1995, she began running her notary practice through her Notary Corporation. In 2006, she became a “roving notary” whose practice was limited to covering the practices of other notaries due to illness or vacation.

The Society of Notaries Public of B.C. suspended Samji on February 7, 2012, and obtained a court order appointing a custodian over Samji’s practice on February 8. She subsequently submitted her resignation on March 6, 2012.

In April 2012, the B.C. Securities Commission announced: “For his misconduct, Patel is permanently banned from trading securities or exchange contracts, except in accounts in his own name; prohibited from acting as a director or officer of any company or registrant; acting as a registrant or promoter; acting in a management or consultative capacity in connection with the securities industry; and, engaging in investor relations activities.”

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Ontario to reopen province, guiding principles unveiled

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Ontario to reopen province, guiding principles unveiled

THE Ontario government on Monday released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy.

Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our frontline heroes as we do everything in our power to contain and defeat this deadly virus,” said Ford. “At the same time, we are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy. This next phase of our response to COVID-19 is designed to help us map out what needs to be done, and when, to get us back on the road to recovery.”

The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

  • Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
  • Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
  • Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

“Recent public health indicators show us that we’re beginning to turn a corner in the COVID-19 outbreak, while economic data, feedback from businesses and insights from our communities are outlining how we need to plan for economic recovery,” said Phillips. “Turning on an economy after an unprecedented shut-down is not as simple as flipping a switch. We need to plan this out carefully to ensure we do not spark a sudden outbreak, undo the progress we have made and put the safety of the public at risk.”

To reopen the economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

“It is because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19 that we are able to consider plans to move into the next phase of our battle against this virus,” said Elliott. “The Chief Medical Officer of Health has outlined some criteria he will use to advise government on when we may begin to slowly and safely ease public health measures and restart our economy. To be able to do so, w e need everyone to continue their extraordinary efforts so that we can meet these thresholds and begin to move forward.”

Supporting the next phases of Ontario’s Action Plan, the new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, chaired by Minister Phillips, will be consulting with key sectors in all regions to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop a plan to move forward. The government and Members of Provincial Parliament will lead discussions with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the postsecondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs and others.

The work of the committee will build on Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the first phase of the government’s $17 billion response, that is delivering targeted relief for businesses and families across Ontario.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has had far-reaching economic impacts for businesses and communities across Ontario,” said Fedeli. “In the face of these challenges, businesses and individuals have stepped up to support our frontline workers, produce essential equipment and keep our supply chains moving. Our plan to carefully and methodically reopen Ontario’s economy will ensure that businesses are supported on our path to renewed economic prosperity.”

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Canadian News

Stephen Lecce, Ontario education minister appoints investigator to examine Peel District School Board

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Ontario education minister appoints investigator to examine Peel District School Board

ONTARIO’S Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, on Tuesday announced he has appointed Arleen Huggins to conduct an investigation into the Peel District School Board’s compliance with the Minister’s binding Directions to the Board issued on March 13.

“We expect our school leaders – trustees, senior administration, and educators – to ensure all students are learning in safe and inclusive classrooms,” said Lecce. “This is why effective, transparent, and accountable school board governance is essential to the success and well-being of students in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.”

Huggins is a practising lawyer with 30 years experience in employment law, human rights law, workplace harassment and discrimination investigations and commercial litigation. She is a former President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and a Former Chair of both the Canadian Bar Association Standing Committee on Equity and the Ontario Bar Association Equal Opportunity Committee.  Huggins was also on the founding Board of the African Canadian Legal Clinic and has served on the Doctors Without Borders Human Resources Committee and the federal Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) for the GTA.

With the issuance of 27 binding Directions to the Board on March 13, the minister provided clear direction with specific timelines and deliverables to address systemic discrimination, particularly anti-Black racism, as well as dysfunctional governance, leadership and human resources practices within the PDSB.

“When it comes to confronting racism and discrimination, I will not accept delay or inaction,” added Lecce. “The message I am sending is — do better. Our kids deserve better. And I will do whatever it takes to ensure these issues are addressed immediately and effectively.”

The Ontario Government said it is committed to ensuring PDSB complies with the minister’s binding directions so that parents, students and the community get the positive change that they need and deserve.

Huggins will deliver her report to the minister on or before May 18.

The PDSB is responsible for 257 schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, and over 155,000 students representing a rich array of racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds.

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COVID-19″ More Indo-Canadians returning are from India

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More flights carrying Canadians leave India

CANADIAN High Commissioner in New Delhi, Nadir Patel, tweeted on Wednesday morning that the 15th special flight from India to Canada – had left Mumbai, bringing home more Canadian travelers stranded in India.

He added: “More special flights taking place in the coming days, thanks to all for your patience while we work through the complexities.”

On Tuesday, the 14th special flight with Canadians took off from Kolkata and Patel tweeted: “Huge thanks to our colleagues Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell & his team for collaborating to make this happen.”

The 13th special flight with Canadians had departed from Bangalore on Monday, covering six states in the south.

And last Sunday (April 26) the 12th special flight from India departed from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with nearly 300 Canadians aboard.

More flights carrying Canadians leave India

More flights carrying Canadians leave India

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