Five years after being named Canada’s key player in the Panama Papers offshore financial scandal, a former West Vancouver attorney is now being prosecuted in the US and his financial assets have been frozen by the SEC.
Fred Sharp, who named himself “Bond” after the film spy according to court records, is one of six British Columbians charged by regulators with “violating anti-fraud regulations” under the US Securities Act.
Sharp and two of his co-defendants in British Columbia are also charged with conspiracy and securities fraud by the US Department of Justice.
“Sharply masterful … long-running fraudulent systems that collectively generated hundreds of millions of dollars from unlawful stock sales” between 2011 and 2018, the SEC said on Aug. 12.
Six of Sharp’s alleged “employees” are also charged by the SEC: Zhiying Gasarch of Richmond, BC; Courtney Keln from Surrey; Mike Veldhuis from North Vancouver; Jackson Frisians from Delta; Paul Sexton of Anmore, BC; and Avtar Singh Dhillon, a Canadian living in California.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission claims the co-defendants “worked with Sharp on many occasions to run down huge equity positions while hiding their control positions.”
The SEC’s move comes after the US Department of Justice charged Sharp on August 5th with securities fraud and conspiracy – including charges against compatriots Veldhuis and Kelln from British Columbia.
None of the criminal or securities allegations have been proven in court.
“Sharp and his co-conspirators are charged with an elaborate, global scam that allegedly cheated unsuspecting investors out of tens of millions of dollars,” said Joseph Bonavolonta, the FBI Boston special agent who led the criminal investigation. “We will do everything we can to hold those who steal American investors accountable.”
Sharp and his co-conspirators are accused of perpetrating an elaborate, global scam that allegedly hunted unsuspecting investors for tens of millions of dollars.– Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston
In 2016, CBC News was one of only two news outlets in Canada with full access to all financial documents leaked by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is part of a massive international investigative journalism collaboration called the Panama Papers.
According to wealth management industry sources, Sharp’s Corporate House was known as the investment firm of choice for wealthy Canadians who wanted to keep assets private and use offshore tax havens to minimize their tax burden, according to wealth management industry sources, CBC News learned.
He founded more than 1,200 Canada-affiliated business units, making him the most important Canadian player in the Panama Papers’ treasure trove. According to records from CBC News at the time, the Sharp group companies were instructed not to send bank statements or invoices by post, email or fax, but to destroy them.
“Printed invoices or bank statements [sic] should be destroyed, “the instructions say.
At the time of the Panama Papers’ release, Sharp told CBC News in an email: “Tax planning is a global reality resulting from international competition and inefficient government regulation … and is legal.”
A “pump-and-dump” investment program is one that artificially inflates companies’ stock prices, allowing some shareholders to sell their shares to other investors at artificially high prices, according to the FBI.
Sharp “used the code name ‘Bond’ (styled himself after the fictional character James Bond),” said the Securities and Exchange Commission in court documents, and “was the mastermind and leader” of a company whose customers included “individuals involved in fraudulent operations Intent to sell shares in the markets to private investors – and with various offshore trading platforms. “
Another James Bond connection popped up in Sharp’s accounting system, which, according to the SEC, was named after the fictional senior spy “Q” in the Bond franchise. The role of “Q”, according to the court records, was “to hide and disguise actual ownership and control of the stocks they were secretly selling”.
Sharp is a retired attorney from Vancouver who Suspended from the Law Society of British Columbia in 1995who ruled that he “knowingly took instructions from an individual disqualified from serving as an officer or director of a public company on the basis of a criminal record for fraud,” and that he wrote a check for nearly $ 500,000 to a customer, ” knowing that ” [the client] had no money in his bank account. “
In Sharp correspondence, quoted in SEC court documents, his company’s services were “not limited to trading,” including payments, loans and “keeping customers out of jail.”
If convicted of securities fraud, Sharp faces up to 20 years in prison plus five years on charges of conspiracy. according to the US Department of Justice.