Who is Daniel Bard, the elusive man at centre of missing money scandal?
Moncton man, formerly employed by government-funded agency, being investigated by RCMP for breach of trust
More information is coming to light about Daniel Bard, the Moncton man at the centre of a missing money scandal.
Bard is being accused by several business owners and individuals of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in administrative and brokerage fees but failing to deliver on promises and then vanishing.
The RCMP are investigating him for breach of trust.
Bard owes money to businesses that have sued him in civil court and won their cases but is nowhere to be found. People who dealt with him believe Bard, who worked for the government-funded 3+ economic development agency until January 2018 may have fled the country.
Charlo's HIL Group went to Bard in 2017 to get help with a loan for a project to transform organic waste into biofuel pellets.
Owners Luc Bernard and Hervé Auclair had known Bard for 25 years and considered him a friend. Bernard's 19-year-old son died in a work accident in 2012, and this project was to be a legacy of sorts — he was investing the money from his son's life insurance.
That's someone who doesn't have any morals.- Luc Bernard
"It was really personal," Bernard said.
"He knew that. For me, that's someone who doesn't have any morals."
Bernard and Auclair sued and won their case, worth $130,000, in August. Bard never showed up in court, or even filed a statement of defence.
He's been impossible to locate, in fact, and Bernard and Auclair filed a lien against his property.
Bard's last known address is a house in a new development on Dieppe's Rouse Street — Bernard and Auclair were hoping to recover their money through its sale. It was put on the market last summer, and a buyer was found, but Bernard and Auclair learned they weren't the only ones in line. The bank had foreclosed on the property, putting itself in front of the HIL Group founders as creditors.
It turns out, Bard hadn't been paying the bank either.
Property records show he bought the house for $280,000 in February 2018, one month after he stopped working at 3+.
He got a first mortgage for $140,000, from Alternative Mortgage Solutions, a private lender that bills itself as a loan company for people who have been turned down by banks.
A few months later, that September, he got a second mortgage from the Royal Bank against the property for $295,000 — 105 per cent of what he paid, at a rather high interest rate — seven per cent.
It's not clear when Bard last lived there — the house is now empty, waiting for the foreclosure sale to go through.
And there's no sign of Bard at any of his registered business addresses either.
His company, VM Venture Management, still active online and on the provincial corporate registry, is listed as having offices in a building on Moncton's Main Street.
But adjacent tenants said Bard hasn't been there for a few months, and a new business is now leasing the place — the signs having already been replaced.
History going back years
Bard has had several businesses and several addresses through the years.
Before his venture management company, he ran a mortgage business between 2011 and 2015 called First Approved Mortgages Inc., according to records.
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And that company has had its share of legal troubles too.
Bathurst resident Jason Vienneau was looking to remortgage his four apartment buildings in the city in 2013.
He couldn't get a loan from the bank, so he went looking on Kijiji, when he came across an ad that appeared to be from a bank.
He called the number on the ad and was referred to First Approved Mortgages Inc. That's when he started talking with Bard.
"He said he could get me a mortgage for sure, no problem, but I had to send him a $5,000 retainer fee to get the papers going," said Vienneau.
Vienneau sent the money but by the next month, Bard had vanished.
"He kept saying he was getting the papers ready, and then he just stopped answering me," he said.
"I kept calling and calling but he wasn't in town, he wasn't anywhere."
In 2014, Vienneau sued in small claims court. He paid to have the sheriff's office serve papers.
But Bard was once again nowhere in sight.
"They just told me they couldn't find Daniel Bard," said Vienneau.
The case was never heard, and Vienneau declared bankruptcy shortly after.
He's tried to put the ordeal behind him, but it hasn't always been easy.
"I know $5,000, maybe for some people, it's not a lot of money, but for me back then I was only 23 years old. I was just getting started . … It was pretty much hell."
Bard was later hired by 3+ Corporation.
With files from Serge Bouchard