According to a panel from the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), ex-notary Rashida Samji convinced investors to place $200,000 each into a secure trust account in order to finance an overseas winery affiliated with Mark Anthony – the Vancouver company that represents prestigious B.C. vineyards including Mission Hill. “A lot of people lost a lot of money,” BCSC spokesperson Richard Gillhooley said. “It’s devastating for the victims.”
VANCOUVER – A South Asian notary, who fell from grace and was subsequently kicked out of her profession, lied about her connection to a prominent wine distributor to bilk hundreds of investors out of $110-million as part of an elaborate Ponzi scheme being called “a monumental lie.”
B.C.’s securities watchdog ruled that Rashida Samji collected the fortune from 218 different investors between 2003 and 2012, reported CTV News.
According to a panel from the British Columbia Securities Commission, Samji convinced investors to place $200,000 each into a secure trust account in order to finance an overseas winery affiliated with Mark Anthony – the Vancouver company that represents prestigious B.C. vineyards including Mission Hill.
But that was just a front to run the ponzi scheme. Plush with continuing roll-in of investors, Samji took money for herself and paid out other investors as she drew more people in to her elaborate fraud scheme, where returns on investment varied, but typically investors were paid out 12 per cent a year.
“She told her investors ‘I’ll keep your money safe in an audited account and it will be used for guarantees for loans overseas,’ but of course there was no account,” said BCSC spokesperson Richard Gilhooley.
But while Samji told investors the investment was connected to Mark Anthony and “certain companies dealing in the wine business in South America and South Africa,” she admitted to the BCSC panel that not one dollar was ever used to invest in wineries or wine.
“It was a monumental deceit,” the BCSC ruled in its hearing against Samji.
“The whole investment scheme was one big lie. There was no investment related to the wine business, nor any letters of comfort.”
The hearing was exhaustive: The BCSC entered nearly 10,000 documents into evidence and called 18 witnesses, including 11 investors.
The BCSC will now decide on administrative sanctions against Samji and her companies. Punishments could include being banning from future trading and compelling her to repay victims.
Sadly, it’s highly unlikely any of the victims will recoup their money: Samji declared bankruptcy in 2013.
So far, 43 people have signed on to civil lawsuits against Samji. She also faces 28 criminal charges, including fraud and theft. The allegations have not yet been proven in court, reported CTV News.
“A lot of people lost a lot of money,” Gillhooley said. “It’s devastating for the victims.”