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Disciplinary hearing for ex-London investment adviser facing pyramid scheme allegations – The London Free Press

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A former London investment adviser could face professional discipline over his alleged involvement in a pyramid scheme.


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A former London investment adviser could face professional discipline over his alleged involvement in a pyramid scheme.

Sean Nother, who had worked for CIBC World Markets Inc. since 2001, was dismissed in January for his alleged involvement in the so-called gifting club between May and August 2018, according to documents filed with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

An unnamed organizer introduced Nother to the gifting club in May 2018. The club had multiple groups, known as clouds, each consisting of various levels. The top level, the birthday position, was occupied by one person, while the levels beneath had two, three and four members, says a notice of hearing posted on the regulator’s website.

The four bottom members were required to give $5,000 each to the birthday position holder, and had to bring in two new members to move up the ladder, the documents allege.


London investmet advisor Sean Nother, a former employee with CIBC Wood Gundy, faces professional discipline for his alleged involvement in a pyramid scheme.

The organizer offered to sponsor Nother to join the club, the documents allege, noting the Ontario Securities Commission previously had banned the organizer from selling investments for past misconduct involving clients.

Nother brought his lawyer to a meeting with the organizer in May 2018, and the lawyer said the club was legal from a tax perspective, the documents allege.

According to documents filed by the regulator, Nother was barred by his employer from outside business activity and asked his wife to join the club. She was elevated to the next level in summer 2018, despite not bringing in any new members, the documents allege.

Nother discussed the gifting club with seven clients, five of whom joined, and other non-clients, four of whom signed up, the documents allege.

According to documents filed by the regulator, Nother didn’t disclose his involvement in the gifting club to his employer and said new members were required to meet with the organizer and pay $5,000. But one of Nother’s clients and another non-client reported paying him the fee directly, with the understanding that he’d then pay the organizer, the documents allege.

According to the regulator, Nother says his wife quit the club in summer 2018 after the couple became uncomfortable with it. He also reported trying unsuccessfully to contact the organizer and get the money back for his clients and two non-clients, the documents allege.

According to documents filed by the regulator, Nother says he tried to reach the organizer again in November 2018, after reading a news report of London police charging two people for their alleged involvement in a gifting club. Nother had met one of the accused, Bernard Baratta, at a social event with the organizer in May 2018, the documents allege.

Baratta, 73, and Shakila Bayat, 52, were charged jointly with conducting or managing a pyramid scheme. They were sentenced Nov. 5 to 12 months’ probation under a conditional discharge, an outcome in which an admission of guilt is made but no conviction is registered.

Nother, who was not charged, maintained his club was separate from the one involving Baratta, the documents allege.

The organizer put an end to the club in December 2018, leaving the members brought in by Nother out $45,000, the documents allege, noting Nother reimbursed one person.

Nother is to appear before a hearing panel Jan 14 in Toronto. If the panel concludes the regulator’s allegations are true, it may impose penalties ranging from being reprimanded or fined to losing his licence or being barred from working in the finance industry.

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

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China Overtook US in Foreign Direct Investment, UN Agency Says – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — China overtook the U.S. as the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020, a year in which overall global flows cratered by 42% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a United Nations trade agency said.

Flows fell to an estimated $859 billion from $1.5 trillion in 2019, according to the UNCTAD Investment Trends Monitor. It was the lowest level since the 1990s and 30% below the investment trough that followed the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

While the world as a whole struggled, China held on, said UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. It became the world’s largest FDI recipient with flows rising by 4% to $163 billion.

A return to positive GDP growth and a targeted investment facilitation program helped stabilize investment in China after the first coronavirus lockdowns there, the agency said.

Among Chinese sectors, high-tech industries saw an FDI increase of 11% in 2020, and cross-border mergers and acquisitions rose by 54%, mostly in information and communications technology, and pharmaceutical industries.

Flows to North America slid by 46% to $166 billion, and those to the U.S. alone fell 49% to an estimated $134 billion in 2020.

Europe fared worse, with flows down by two-thirds to a negative $4 billion. In the U.K., FDI fell to zero, and declines were recorded in other major countries. Elsewhere, flows to Australia slumped but those to Israel rose.

Globally, the UN agency expects foreign direct investment to remain weak in 2021 due to uncertainty over the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The effects of the pandemic on investment will linger,” said James Zhan, director of UNCTAD’s investment division. “Investors are likely to remain cautious in committing capital to new overseas productive assets.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Opinion | Consumers should know investment performance and costs – TheSpec.com

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This is the time of year when most Canadians receive their financial reports.

Everybody is concerned about the shape of their finances. A retired family asks their adviser: “Will we have enough income to live on?” A charitable foundation CEO asks her Treasurer: “Warn me before our cash flow turns negative.” Both want the same thing — the bottom line.

For a long time, clients of dealers and managers received statements showing the current value of their investments compared with the previous month.

But those snapshots didn’t show if the overall portfolio made any progress from year to year. Even for the do-it-yourself investor, yearly comparisons are too important to be scribbled on the back of an envelope.

Fortunately, things are changing for the better.

The Canadian Securities Administrators believe investors should know how their investments performed over time. They also think it’s important to know the cost of fees and services that affected that performance. So, all advisers now must provide two performance and costs summaries, each year.

The investment performance report presents the annual percentage return for the first year and at Dec. 31 for the last three, five and 10 years when an account was open. That way each client can see how the portfolio performed over several years.

A special advantage is the way performance is calculated after all withdrawals and contributions. It’s too easy to forget the withdrawal covering 20 per cent of a dental bill that the insurance plan didn’t reimburse, or the deposit of a Christmas cheque from Nana.

This will also help to compare the portfolio’s progress with an index representing similar securities. We usually see various indexes on TV or smartphone or newspaper, but without such comparison we can’t determine whether our investments are keeping pace.

Much more importantly, it reveals if that progress matches what we want to achieve. That’s the objective clients must specify at the beginning, in the information form that authorizes the adviser. The performance report shows if the adviser’s guidance met our objectives.

Some people let the bull market roll on until the panic last March. Then they sold. When the market rallied sharply, they climbed aboard again. Sounds like a crapshoot? In-and-outers will now be able to see how costly the commissions were and how much they eroded the net results.

A previous article reported that computers, algorithms and passive managers are responsible for 60 per cent of transaction volumes. Trading is idealized in TV commercials. Shallow acquaintances boast of their trading successes; smart friends don’t go there. Consistent trading gains are rare and involve costs. During the COVID-19 panic, investors sold and repurchased funds in seismic proportions. Advisers seemed absent, while commissions shaved their clients’ net returns.

That’s why investors look for a reliable measure that summarizes costs, and does it simply too — their net results.

The cost of advice report is just as important as the performance report. Advisers are required to disclose the total of all fees and commissions charged to your account.

The Investor Office of the Ontario Securities Commission states in their Investment Performance and the Cost of Advice report: “No matter what type of investment you buy or advice you receive, you will be charged fees.”

For investment fund accounts, there are operating charges, transaction charges, third-party payments and trailing commissions. For managed portfolios, there are management fees.

The last 10-year data show investors made large purchases of mutual funds and ETFs each January-February (probably for deductible RRSP contributions) and almost as large March-April reductions. Commissions minimized investors’ returns. Who benefited more, clients or advisers?

The purpose of these regulatory requirements for fund dealers and portfolio managers is to ensure transparency in their communications with clients. With tens of thousands of advisers across Canada, the regulators leave it to investors to become informed and to take the initiative to pursue any questions.

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As technology opens up the seamy side, cybersecurity threats are an emerging risk. The regulators try to protect investors from unfair, improper or outright fraudulent advisory practices.

How advisers cope with fraud to preserve client confidence will be another chapter in the story, as they prepare for more stock market turbulence.

A future report will analyze whether the foregoing reports measure the client’s or the adviser’s performance.

Norm Stefnitz is a retired financial analyst and portfolio manager. Now a freelance writer, he analyzes economic and investment options for families, endowments and charities, and can be reached at n.stefnitz @cogeco.ca

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China Passes U.S. As No. 1 Destination For Foreign Investment As Coronavirus Upends Global Economy – Forbes

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Topline

As the world struggled to contain the coronavirus crisis, foreign direct investment in the United States plummeted 49% in 2020 while investment in China rose 4%, making China the largest recipient of foreign inflows for the first time, according to a report released Sunday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. 

Key Facts

China pulled in $163 billion in new investments from foreign businesses in 2020 while the U.S. fell into second place with $134 billion. 

The U.S. and China had broadly different responses to the pandemic, with China’s government instituting strict, large-scale lockdown measures in early 2020 while the United States’ response was far less centralized and far less effective in curbing the spread of the virus. 

That prompted a major shift in the global economy—while the United States and other Western countries struggled to contain the pandemic, China went back to work, manufacturing picked up, and as a result China was the only major economy to report economic expansion in 2020. 

While the momentum of FDI has been shifting towards China for several years, the total stock of foreign investment is still larger in the United States, the Wall Street Journal notes.

FDI in India rose 13% in 2020, while FDI in the European Union fell by two-thirds.

The U.N. expects foreign investment overall to remain weak in 2021. 

Big Number

42%. That’s how much foreign direct investment fell across the globe in 2020, from $1.5 trillion in 2019 to $859 billion in 2020. Most of that decline occurred in developed countries, the U.N. said. 

Key Background

Despite increasingly frosty relations between the U.S. and China, western firms are continuing to pour their resources into the rapidly growing economy there. Last month, Goldman Sachs took full ownership of its Chinese joint venture partner. JPMorgan did the same in November. Tesla is ramping up production in China and early last year, PepsiCo spent $705 million to buy a Chinese snack brand.

Crucial Quote 

“U.S. and other foreign firms will continue to invest in China as it remains one of the most resilient economies during the global pandemic and as future growth potential there remains stronger than most other major economies,” Rhodium Group analyst Adam Lysenko told Bloomberg last month. 

Further Reading

China Overtakes U.S. as World’s Leading Destination for Foreign Direct Investment (Wall Street Journal)

Biden Will Be More Predictable Than Trump On Trade, But Don’t Expect Tariff Rollbacks Any Time Soon (Forbes)

China’s Growth Beats Estimates as Economy Powers Out of Covid (Bloomberg)

China’s Exports Surged 9.5% In August Despite Escalating Tensions With The United States (Forbes)

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