Fraud and skullduggery at Norbourg Asset Management

IFIC chairman steps down while his company, Norbourg, investigated by RCMP: “MONTREAL (CP) – The chairman of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada stepped down Thursday after RCMP and other police officers swooped down on several offices in Montreal and Toronto as part of a major fraud investigation against his company, Norbourg Asset Management Inc.”

With the shocking news coming over the wire of another instance of financial skullduggery and possibly outright fraud occurring at the offices of Montreal-based Norbourg Asset Management Inc., one cannot help but be outraged and upset. In an extremely embarrassing side story for the whole Canadian mutual fund industry, Michel Fragasso, a senior vice-president at Norbourg, was forced to resign from the industry’s primary lobby group, the Investment Funds Institute of Canada. And, it gets better: he was Chair of the association’s board and acted as its principal spokesperson.

The exact details of the police and Autorité des marchés financiers, the Quebec financial sector regulatory agency, investigation are sketchy but essentially the joint-investigation is looking into a difference of $70.7 million between the company’s latest financial results and its assets under management. The mutual fund manager is also reported to have filed false annual financial reports, duping its investors whose monetary portfolios it manages. Some 5,000 clients are reported to have lost everything, or almost everything, with little chance of recouping it.

“Autorité president Jean Saint-Gelais said Norbourg has only $84 million left in its accounts – $70.7 million less than it has on its books.

“Authorities will also investigate the alleged misappropriation of $69.8 million belonging to Evolution and Norbourg funds and the alleged falsification of documents for Norbourg’s operations.”

The fact that the provincial regulatory agency has “ordered Norbourg to stop all activities and froze its assets and bank accounts” should come as little consolation to Norbourg’s duped (and not to mention financially bilked) customers.

This kind of corporate malfeasance should not, and most certainly will not, be tolerated by this blogger, in particular, and Canadians, in general. The executives must be held to account for pilfering the monies directly from its clients assets that it manages and depositing them into their personal bank accounts or other egregious purposes. Moreover, Norbourg’s founder and president Vincent Lacroix, a 38-year-old entrepreneur-turned-criminal con-artist who has apparently disappeared and may no longer be in the country, must be found and extradited back to Canada as expeditiously as humanly possible. I will settle for nothing less.

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