South Asian Notary Teams With Financial Planner For Alleged Multi-Million Dollar Investment Fraud

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The BC Securities Commission has instituted orders freezing about $990,000 in various bank accounts controlled by suspended notary public Rashida Samji and suspended Coast Capital employee Arvindbhai Patel, and filed liens on eight properties owned or jointly owned by Samji, and five properties owned or jointly owned by Patel.

SURREY – Vancouver Sun’s news hound David Baines, who has sniffed out hundreds of investment fraud stories, largely originating from Howe Street’s pump and dump scams as well as from other financial spheres in BC, reported this week that a South Asian Notary Public and her fellow South Asian Financial Planner, who was working at Coast Capital Savings, have come under the scanner for masterminding a multi-million dollar investment fraud usually known as a Ponzi scheme, made most famous by American crook Bernie Madoff.

Arvindbhai Patel, the financial planner, told authorities that he referred about two dozen people to a Vancouver notary Rashida Samji, who was promoting an investment scheme that regulators now fear is a bust and will most likely cost investors millions dollars.

Patel told B.C. Securities Commission investigator Michele (Mike) Pesunti on Feb. 6 that he initially became involved in the scheme in 2005, when his wife was ill with cancer and he was on leave from work, according to court documents, reported the Sun.

Patel said he was approached by notary Samji regarding the scheme, and subsequently referred 20 to 25 people who collectively invested $8 million to $9 million.

Patel told Pesunti that, on Feb. 3 and 5, he spoke to Samji, who assured him the investments were guaranteed in a notary trust account, and everybody would get their money back after the professional association for notaries audited the account.

A senior Coast Capital official told the Sun that Patel, who also worked mutual fund salesman at the credit union’s branch on 72nd Avenue in Surrey, was operating out-side the scope of his employment.

“This was not a Coast Capital product and it was not endorsed by Coast Capital,” Bob Anthony, the credit union’s chief risk officer, told Baines.

In the cases of both Patel and Samji, who was roving Notary without a fulltime practice, the circumstances of their professional positions make it difficult or impossible for investors to recover their money from insurance policies of their professional associations. This means, the investors may be out of luck in recovering their full monies back.

News of the alleged Ponzi scheme broke Tuesday when the securities commission issued an “investor alert” warning investors not to send any money to Samji or Patel. By that time, the credit union had suspended Patel, and the notaries society had suspended Samji.

Details of the scheme were sketchy. According to affidavits filed by com-mission investigators, the money was to be invested in a “real estate and import/export business involving wineries.”

He said he told investors the minimum investment was $50,000, and they would earn 12 per cent annually and their principal would be protected (although he was unable to explain how this would be achieved).

He said there was no paperwork, other than a letter directing the funds to one of Samji’s “trust accounts.”

Exactly how much has been invested is not clear. According to commission affidavits, Samji told the TD bank, where she maintained her business account, that she owed about 50 clients between $5 million and $7 million.

Patel, meanwhile, says the total amount is $8 million to $9 million.

The BCSC has instituted orders freezing about $990,000 in various bank accounts controlled by Samji and Patel, and filed liens on eight proper-ties owned or jointly owned by Samji, and five properties owned or jointly owned by Patel.

Those include Samji’s condo at 1596 West 14th Ave. in Vancouver, which is assessed at $2.16 million, and Patel’s condo at 1201 Marinaside Crescent in Vancouver, which is assessed at $736,000.

Samji, meanwhile, appears to have gone ill. According to investigators, Samji’s brother told Vancouver police that she was in Vancouver General Hospital and “things did not look good.”

The investigation is still in the early stages. No formal allegations of wrongdoing have been made against Samji or Patel. Neither are easy to find for comment.

BCSC officials are encouraging any-body who may have dealings with Samji or Patel to contact the commission at 604-899-6854 or 1-800-373-6393.

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