Lack of cooperation hampers research

Nabil Anas

Global Courant 2023-05-18 05:35:15

Attempts to untangle the financial web of Victoria mortgage broker Greg Martel, who is accused of running his company like a Ponzi scheme, have hit a brick wall, according to investigators trying to pinpoint the many millions he owed to investors.

The trustee PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said in a report that Martel has failed to comply with court orders to produce financial documents and a sworn list of assets and has ignored requests for communication.

The report also raises more serious concerns about Martel’s conduct, citing an email from Martel attempting to move assets from one U.S. bank to another, ostensibly to move them beyond the scope of the court order.

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Martel and his company, My Mortgage Auction Corp (MMAC), also known as Shop Your Own Mortgage, owe hundreds, if not thousands, of investors $226 million, according to a PwC list of unsecured creditors.

Martel’s whereabouts are uncertain, and so far investigators have not found the missing millions, nor have they recovered any documents proving that the investments he sold actually existed.

Investor Ayla Stimpson came to the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver on Wednesday to personally witness the proceedings.

Stimpson, who is due to give birth to her first child in two weeks, put in $300,000 in November 2022 after two Shop Your Own Mortgage employees assured her the investment was good.

“I don’t think I’ll ever see my money again,” she said. “It is becoming clear that he is uncooperative and that there is no money to pay back investors what is owed to them.”

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Martel’s lawyer, Ritchie Clark, claimed in an email that his client has difficulty complying with court orders because he is “out of jurisdiction having received a number of death threats and threats of violence against his family.”

According to Clark, Martel also said he was having trouble accessing his data because staff at some of his companies had quit.

But Judge Shelley Fitzpatrick had none of the excuses, telling Clark that his client was putting himself in serious legal jeopardy by ignoring the court.

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“I think it’s very clear that the requested information will be in his possession or under his control,” Fitzpatrick said.

“The trustee’s undisputed investigation … indicates that he was the one who ran this company, and more importantly, the one who made these investments that all these hundreds of investors want to know more about in terms of loan recovery to the defendant.”

Fitzpatrick reiterated the court order requiring Martel to produce documents and an asset list with a new deadline of May 26.

She also granted extensive investigative powers to the trustee to potentially track down assets in the United States, where Martel is involved in a number of companies, along with a provision allowing MMAC to declare bankruptcy if it deems it necessary.

“This court — including myself personally — does not take failure to comply with court orders lightly, and I sincerely hope that (Martel) will fully appreciate that,” Fitzpatrick said.

The next hearing date is June 9.

Lack of cooperation hampers research

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