US authorities freeze assets, accuse British Columbians of ‘long-standing fraudulent scheme’
Five years after being named a major Canadian player in the âPanama Papersâ offshore financial scandal, a former West Vancouver lawyer is now facing prosecution in the United States and has had his financial assets frozen by the Securities and Exchange Commission the United States.
Fred Sharp, who nicknamed himself “Bond” after the spy film, according to court documents, is one of six British Columbians accused by the regulator of having “violated the anti-fraud provisions” of the US Securities Act.
Sharp and two of his accused British Columbia colleagues also face conspiracy and securities fraud charges from the US Department of Justice.
âLong-standing fraudulent schemes that collectively generated hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal stock salesâ between 2011 and 2018, the SEC said Aug. 12.
Six of Sharp’s alleged âassociatesâ also face SEC charges: Zhiying Gasarch of Richmond, British Columbia; Surrey resident Courtney Kelln; Mike Veldhuis from North Vancouver; Jackson Friesen of Delta; Paul Sexton d’Anmore, BC; and Avtar Singh Dhillon, a Canadian living in California.
The US stock market regulator alleges that the co-defendants “often collaborated with Sharp to get rid of huge stock positions while hiding their controlling positions.”
The SEC decision comes after the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Sharp with securities fraud and conspiracy on August 5 – charges also against fellow British Columbia Veldhuis and Kelln.
None of the criminal or securities charges have been proven in court.
“Sharp and his co-conspirators are accused of executing a sophisticated global scam that allegedly bribed unsuspecting investors worth tens of millions of dollars,” said Joseph Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI Boston, who aided to conduct the criminal investigation. “We will do all we can to hold accountable those who steal from American investors.”
Sharp and his co-conspirators are accused of executing a sophisticated global scam that allegedly defrauded unsuspecting investors of tens of millions of dollars.– Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston
In 2016, CBC News was one of only two media outlets in Canada to have full access to all financial documents leaked by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, as part of a massive international investigative journalism collaboration. known as “Panama Papers”.
According to sources in the wealth management industry, Sharp’s firm, Corporate House, was known as the investment firm of choice for high net worth Canadians who wanted to keep their assets private and use offshore tax havens to minimize their tax burden. , CBC News learned.
He created more than 1,200 corporate entities related to Canada, making him the most important Canadian player in the Panama Papers treasury. According to documents obtained by CBC News at the time, the companies associated with Sharp were instructed not to send account statements or invoices by mail, email or fax, but to destroy them.
“Printed invoices or statement of accounts [sic] must be destroyed, “the instructions said.
At the time of publication of the Panama Papers, Sharp told CBC News in an email, âTax planning is a global reality that results from international competition and ineffective government regulationâ¦ and is legal.
According to the FBI, a “pump and dump” investment program is a program in which the stock prices of companies are artificially inflated, allowing certain shareholders to sell their shares at artificially high prices to other investors.
Sharp “used the code name ‘Bond’ (styling himself after the fictional character James Bond),” the Securities and Exchange Commission said in court documents, and “was the mastermind and leader” of a company whose clients included “individuals fraudulently seeking to sell stocks on the markets to retail investors – and with various offshore trading platforms.”
Another James Bond connection appeared in Sharp’s corporate accounting system, which the SEC said it named after the Bond franchise’s fictitious lead spy “Q”. The role of “Q”, according to court documents, was “to conceal and obscure the actual ownership and control of the stocks they were surreptitiously selling.”
Sharp is a former Vancouver lawyer who was suspended in 1995 by the Law Society of British Columbia, who ruled that he “had knowingly received instructions from a person who was … disqualified from acting as an officer or director of a public company by reason of a criminal record for fraud” and for delivering the check of nearly $ 500,000 from a client “knowing that [the client] did not have funds available in his bank account. “
In correspondence from Sharp cited in SEC court documents, his company’s services were not limited to commerce, but also included payments, loans and “removing customers from prison.”
If convicted of securities fraud, Sharp could face up to 20 years in prison, plus five years on conspiracy charges, according to the US Department of Justice.