Securities Commission finalizes ruling in multi-million dollar market manipulation scheme


A decade after the share prices of OSE Corp., a small oil and gas exploration company, were manipulated illegally, the case appears to have come to a close.

In a judgment issued Wednesday, an appeal panel for the B.C. Securities Commission confirmed how much Shailu Sharon Poonian, Thalbinder Singh Poonian and Perminder Sihota must each pay in “disgorgement,” which means giving up profits acquired through securities fraud, over their role in the OSE scheme, which defrauded millions from investors. (PDF)

The trio were among a group of people the securities commission found had manipulated the share prices of OSE between Sept. 2007 and March 2009. In 2014, the commission ruled that $7,332,936 in profits were illegally obtained.

In March 2015, along with Manjit Singh Sihota and Robert Joseph Leyk, the trio were ordered to pay fines equal to the illegal profits and also banned permanently from trading in the stock market; afterwards, the Poonians and the Singhs had appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal over the disgorgement ruling, leading to Wednesday’s decision. Leyk did not appeal the 2015 decision.

Last year, the Court of Appeal confirmed the commission’s finding in how much illegal profit had been made but sent the file back to the commission to determine how much each person involved in the case owed.

The commission ruled in 2014 that Thalbinder Poonian had been the mastermind of the scheme, which preyed on a number of vulnerable investors. Many of the investors were clients of an Ontario credit counselling agency, Phoenix Credit Risk Management Consulting Inc, and were already indebted and facing “financial duress.”

The five had bought up a majority of OSE shares, then pursued strategies to boost the trading price of those shares before selling them to the unsuspecting investors.

Once the scheme came to a close, investors were eventually left holding essentially worthless shares.

The appeal panel’s ruling ordered that Sharon Poonian pay $3,149,935, Thalbinder Poonian pay $1,319,167 and Perminder Sihota, in conjunction with Thalbinder Poonian, pay $1,126,260. Manjit Sihota, who actually lost money in the scheme, was not ordered to make any disgorgement payments.

pjohnston@postmedia.com

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Source:: Vancouver Sun – Business

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