April 6, 2010
SAINT JOHN (CNB) - A cease-trade order has been issued against two British Columbia residents, Kerry John O'Neill and Renee Marie Helmig (also known as Nisha Helmig).
A panel of the New Brunswick Securities Commission (NBSC) issued the order on Feb. 19. The NBSC order recognizes ones issued by the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC).
The NBSC order permanently bans O'Neill from trading and buying any securities in the province, except in limited circumstances, and prohibits him from acting as director or officer of an issuer, registrant or mutual fund manager.
Helmig is banned from trading and buying securities for 10 years, except in limited circumstances, and is prohibited from acting as a director or officer of an issuer, registrant or mutual fund manager for 10 years.
The BCSC order states that O'Neill was the head of an investment scheme called the Pay it Forward Program. Investors were told that their investment would be used to buy and sell distressed merchandise and that they would get between 100 per cent and 300 per cent of their money returned within 90 days. Helmig played a role in convincing investors to invest based on information provided to her by O'Neill.
The BCSC investigation revealed that the scheme raised about $9.6 million from 943 investors, more than half of whom were from British Columbia. Enforcement staff believe that there were three New Brunswick investors.
The BCSC order states that, of the money collected by O'Neill, $1.1 million was used to buy merchandise, $6.4 million to pay other investors, $56,000 for his personal expenses and $213,000 for other investment opportunities. O'Neill used most of the funds to pay back the initial investors.
"Unfortunately, a scam has to be believable to work," said Rick Hancox, executive director, NBSC. "New Brunswickers should get to know the characteristics of investment fraud so they do not get caught in the trap."
Following are some question to ask before investing:
"By asking these questions, investors will have more information to consider before handing over their hard-earned money," said Hancox. "If you are not satisfied with the response, contact the NBSC as you may have been approached with a scam."
As the provincial securities regulator, the NBSC is the place to call to report investment fraud. More information is online; or telephone toll-free, 1-866-933-2222.
More information about the case in question is available at the Alberta Securities Commission website and on the British Columbia Securities Commission website.
As an independent provincial Crown corporation, the NBSC oversees the capital markets in New Brunswick and regulates those that sell or manage securities. The NBSC is funded by regulatory fees paid of those operating in the investment industry, including public companies, mutual funds and more than 7,000 registered individuals and firms.
MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Robichaud, communications, New Brunswick Securities Commission, 506-643-7045.