‘Admiral’ Who Bought Storied Canada Firm Is Accused of Fraud
(Bloomberg) -- Canadian entrepreneur Gary Ng has been accused by the country’s investment regulator of falsifying documents and creating fake brokerage accounts to secure the money to buy one of Vancouver’s oldest investment firms, PI Financial Corp.
Ng allegedly altered documents to include his name on corporate client accounts and created other fake account balances to use as collateral against C$172 million ($132 million) in loans, according to a statement of allegations filed by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
The actual collateral he owned might have amounted to only C$1.9 million, IIROC said. Ng’s business partner, Donald Metcalfe, assisted in the effort, the regulatory body alleged in the documents. None of the allegations have been proven.
Ng did not reply to requests for comment. Metcalfe couldn’t be reached. Both men are accused of failing to cooperate with investigators, as well as “fraudulent conduct with respect to loan financing,” according to the documents.
Ng and Metcalfe resigned from PI Financial in February after the firm raised concerns with the regulator. Its investigators scheduled interviews with Ng in July and Metcalfe in August, but neither man showed up.
“We identified unusual correspondence during an unrelated document request, immediately alerted our regulators, and have been cooperating with IIROC on its investigation,” Jean-Paul Bachellerie, chief executive officer of PI Financial, said in an email. “None of the alleged misconduct was related to the firm’s capital or client accounts.”
The firm reviewed its internal controls and found they were not, and are not, deficient. Neither its client accounts nor the firm’s own capital were at risk, Bachellerie said. IIROC said it has not found any evidence of client losses.
Fleet of Firms
Ng’s first purchase of a financial firm was a Toronto-based father-and-son shop which he renamed Chippingham Financial Group Ltd., an amalgam of British terms for trading and hamlet. Ng then spent C$100 million in late 2018 to buy PI.
Ng, who called himself the Admiral of the fleet of financial firms he snapped up, financed the PI deal with two loans, one worth C$80 million from a U.S. investment firm and a C$20 million loan from a Canadian asset manager. As collateral, he put up securities he said he held in his personal investment accounts, according to IIROC.
PI was sold this summer to a joint venture controlled by two investment firms, H.I.G. Capital LLC and RCM Capital Management, for an undisclosed amount. H.I.G manages about $41 billion in assets and RCM makes direct debt and equity investments in North American companies.
Ng also borrowed an additional C$40 million in 2019 and 2020 from the asset management firm based in Canada and another C$32 million from a third lender, a private company based in Canada, also based on falsified collateral, according to IIROC.
“Ng and Metcalfe perpetrated a fraudulent scheme by deceiving lenders into providing them with millions of dollars in loans in reliance on falsified and fictitious documentation purportedly evidencing substantial financial assets as security when this was not true,” the regulator said.
Ng deepened his push into Canada’s financial industry with the purchase of an undisclosed stake in private lender Bridging Finance Inc. in 2019. About a year later he sold his stake back to Bridging’s founder David Sharpe, according to Sharpe.
Ng, a self-described “financial entrepreneur,” told Bloomberg in a interview last year that he started working as a coder for Redknee, renamed Optiva Canada, at 16, and became an Internet millionaire during the tech mania of the late 1990s. He said he plowed that into a Chinese glass factory that was eventually sold to Industrial Bank of China, giving him a $150 million windfall.
Ng represented himself to others as someone
A hearing into the allegations is scheduled to begin Jan. 6.
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