British Columbia

B.C. notary accused of multimillion-dollar fraud

A Vancouver notary public has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme that saw more than 200 investors hand over $83 million.

A Vancouver notary public has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme that saw more than 200 investors hand over $83 million between 2003 and 2012.

The B.C. Securities Commission alleges Rashida Samji promised returns of 12 to 30 per cent a year if investors placed their money in her notary trust account, with the money being used as collateral for investments by Mission Hill Winery in Kelowna.

But according to the commission, Samji put the money into her own bank accounts, paid existing investors with money from new investors, and the winery was not aware of the scheme.

Paul Bourque, executive director of the B.C. Securities Commission, says the high returns promised should have been a red flag to investors.

"Our best defence is a well informed investor. And what we would like to have happen is investors not risk their money in schemes like this in the first place," he said.

The allegations have not yet been proven and the commission plans to appoint a panel to hear the charges against Samji, who has since resigned as a notary, after being suspended by the Society of Notaries Public of B.C.

The commission has also imposed a permanent ban from B.C. markets on a 58-year-old Vancouver mutual fund salesman for his role in Samji's scheme.

The commission says Arvin Patel, formerly a financial planner at Coast Capital Savings, admitted to luring about 90 investors into the scheme.

Many of these investors were his own family members, co-workers and clients, who invested about $29 million, most of which has been lost.

now