HALIFAX — A man and his Halifax-based company defrauded five people of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a fake loan scheme, a Nova Scotia Securities Commission panel ruled earlier this week.
In its 34-page ruling, the three-member panel found Wesley William Robinson committed fraud ranging from $25,000 up to $550,000.
Robinson did not appear at a commission hearing in May of this year, but he was interviewed by commission investigators, as were the five complainants, who are only identified in the decision by their initials.
"Documents and emails accepted as exhibits support the narrative set out in the complaints," the panel wrote. It said two of the complainants — identified as GS and BS — appeared as witnesses at the hearing.
"The panel finds both of them were forthright and credible witnesses whose oral evidence was supported by the exhibits."
The commission said the evidence indicates Robinson obtained cash from the complainants, who thought their money was going to be used to secure large loans.
In one instance, a Nova Scotia resident identified as BS was introduced to Robinson through her then-partner, who was a friend of Robinson's.
BS was seeking financing for a business opportunity and Robinson presented a loan opportunity that included using his offshore capital to pledge assets and secure bank guarantees, which he would "monetize, hedge and then lend to finance business opportunities."
BS was asked to pay an upfront US$150,000 bank facility fee.
"In November 2017, BS was advised by Robinson that the transaction would not proceed," the panel said. "Ultimately, no loan transaction was ever concluded and the … bank facility fee was never repaid to BS."
In fact, the panel found that in "many cases," Robinson used the money for personal transactions.
Another complainant from Ontario, identified as KH, was offered an investment opportunity for a lump sum settlement of $25,000 that she had received as a result of a lawsuit in 2014.
The panel said Robinson advised her that he would use the principal to buy a "standby letter of credit issued by a major international bank." Robinson told the woman he would give her $50,000 by the end of September.
The money was transferred to Robinson's personal bank account on Aug. 29, 2014, which had a prior balance of only $38.30. The panel found the money was transferred to personal credit card accounts in Robinson's name, which appeared to have been used for transactions of a "largely personal nature."
"To date, KH has not been repaid her principal or any return on her initial investment," the panel said.
It said the evidence presented at the hearing indicated Robinson's representations were "patently false."
Further, the panel said Robinson preyed on KH and BS, who were described as "relatively unsophisticated investors."
"They have suffered severe financial hardship due to the respondent's fraudulent promises," the panel said, noting that the three other complainants also lost significant amounts despite being more sophisticated investors.
The panel said neither Robinson nor his company, DRR, were legally registered to trade or distribute securities in Nova Scotia or elsewhere in Canada, "at least since Robinson's registration as a mutual fund salesperson was cancelled in 1997."
The panel is to decide on a penalty this fall.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press