Saskatoon

Saskatoon police investigating complaint against Epic Alliance group of companies

The Saskatoon Police Service's economic crime unit is investigating a complaint by an Ontario investor against the Epic Alliance group of companies.

Investigator's report shows company sold securities while under cease trade order

Rochelle Laflamme, left, and Alisa Thompson in a still from the January video call where investors were told the company was folding. Police are now looking into what happened. (Zoom)

The Saskatoon Police Service's economic crime unit is investigating a complaint against the Epic Alliance group of companies.

The complaint came from an Ontario investor after the Saskatoon real estate group abruptly folded in January.

More than 120 investors learned of the collapse on Jan. 19 during a video call with Epic founders Rochelle Laflamme and Alisa Thompson.

"Everything's gone. Everything's bankrupt guys, it's all gone," Laflamme said on the call.

Saskatoon lawyer Mike Russell applied to Court of Queen's Bench, on behalf of the investors, to have an investigator assigned to track what happened to the money. Justice Allisen Rothery appointed an investigator in February and unsealed his confidential report on Friday.

Investigator Peter Chisholm from Ernst & Young concluded that investors may never know exactly what happened to the $211.9 million raised by Laflamme and Thompson between 2013 and 2022.

Part of the problem is that the company's books were unaudited and incomplete. Also, two of three computer servers that stored the electronic records had been wiped clean.

The hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that were recovered were disorganized and incomplete, Chisholm wrote in the 58-page report. He focused on the period from 2019 to 2022, concluding that he companies used money raised from new investors to help pay obligations to earlier investors.

The report showed that, in that period, 82 per cent of the company's revenues came from investors and 18 per cent came from the operations of Epic's businesses.

Chisholm also confirmed one troubling allegation made by investors concerning what happened when Epic Alliance was under a cease trade order.

"The Inspector reviewed signed promissory note agreements indicating that the EA Group raised a total of $370,000 from four investors during the period from October 21, 2021, to October 29, 2021," the report said. The cease trade order was in effect during that period.

Officials with the province's Financial Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA) would not comment on this finding, saying the investigation into Epic Alliance is ongoing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.

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