Toronto

Regulator suspends licence of Toronto mortgage agent who solicited nearly $9M in syndicated mortgages

The mortgage agent who solicited nearly $9 million in syndicated mortgage investments from members of the Greater Toronto Area’s Chinese community has had his licence suspended by the provincial regulator.

CBC Toronto investigation revealed investments were tied to convicted fraudster

Dominic Ha did an interview on Chinese television in 2015 to promote syndicated mortgages. (WowTV)

The mortgage agent who solicited nearly $9 million in syndicated mortgage investments from members of the Greater Toronto Area's Chinese community has had his licence suspended by the provincial regulator after becoming the target of more than a dozen complaints.

Dominic Ha's mortgage agent licence was suspended on May 31 by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) as part of an ongoing investigation.

In April, a CBC Toronto investigation revealed that more than 120 investors have likely lost nearly $9 million in syndicated mortgage investments solicited by Ha, who then loaned the money to a convicted fraudster.

The loans went towards a number of syndicated mortgages, which are investments where a borrower finds more than one private lender to invest money in a property instead of going to the bank. 
Gary Fraser and Dominic Ha took investors on a tour of properties under development in Crystal Beach, Ont.

In this case, the borrower was Black Bear Homes, a developer in Fort Erie, Ont., run by convicted fraudster Gary Fraser. Most of the projects involved renovating or building houses or townhomes in the Crystal Beach community on Lake Erie.

Normally in a syndicated mortgage an investor would lend less than what the property is worth, so that their investment can be recouped from the sale of the property. But in the investments Ha solicited, investors were collectively lending much more. 
More than 120 people from the Greater Toronto Area's Chinese community have likely lost nearly $9 million in syndicated mortgage investments solicited by someone they trusted and then loaned to a convicted fraudster, a CBC News investigation has found. 2:32

According to the contracts that investors signed, Ha received 10 per cent of the funds for each syndicated mortgage he solicited for "mortgage orientation, referral, management and consulting fees."

That means that on a $300,000 syndicated mortgage, Ha would receive a $30,000 commission.

All of the investors CBC Toronto spoke to filed complaints against Ha with FSCO, but back in April the regulator would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation into the mortgage agent.

Ha still selling syndicated mortgage investments: FSCO

Now FSCO has ordered an interim suspension of his licence because it believes that in addition to these complaints, Ha is still selling syndicated mortgage investments "in his personal capacity as a mortgage agent."

According to the enforcement order, FSCO received one complaint about Ha in October 2016 pertaining to the syndicated mortgage investments CBC Toronto has investigated.

The complaint alleged that Ha "provided false or deceptive information in the course of selling syndicated mortgage investments," according to the regulator's enforcement order.

In this first case, Ha provided information to FSCO relating to the complaint and denied any wrongdoing.

Then, in February, the regulator received approximately 17 more complaints about Ha with the same allegations.

In April, Dominic Ha refused to do an interview when approached by CBC Toronto and then he drove away. (CBC)

In the enforcement order, FSCO says they have obtained "information that the complainants may have been misled about the investments and may have been provided with a guarantee about the return on investment."

Several investors, like Kwanny Lam, told CBC Toronto that Ha told them syndicated mortgages were safe and secure.

"Dominic said 'Don't worry about it,'" said Lam, who invested $50,000. "He said 100 per cent guarantee, don't worry about it, get the money back. That's what he promised me."

Despite two summons for information from the regulator, Ha has failed to provide any documentation in response to the 17 complaints, according to FSCO's order.

Nicole Brockbank can be reached at 416-205-6911 or at nicole.brockbank@cbc.ca

About the Author

Nicole Brockbank

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Nicole Brockbank is a reporter for CBC Toronto's Enterprise Unit. Fuelled by coffee, she digs up, researches and writes original investigative and feature stories. nicole.brockbank@cbc.ca