A B.C. Securities Commission tribunal has denied financial fraudster Earle Douglas Pasquill’s application to remove a freeze order on his registered retirement accounts.
In 2015, Pasquill and Michael Patrick Lathigee were ordered by another tribunal to each pay a $15-million fine and disgorge — or pay back — $21.7 million lost by investors for their part in a fraud against nearly 700 people.
Neither Pasquill nor Lathigee, who now lives in Las Vegas, has paid any of those penalties.
The freeze, called a preservation order, was issued by the commission on March 27 and prevents Pasquill from withdrawing or transferring approximately $645,000 in retirement accounts held at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Vancouver.
“We find that the (securities) commission exercised its discretion appropriately. It is clear from the preservation order that it considered the evidence set out in the commission investigator’s affidavits and the sanctions decision,” wrote the tribunal in it’s 14-page ruling released this week.
“It also considered the fact that, five years later, the applicant had not made any payment toward the orders in the sanctions decision, such that the full amounts and interest remain owing,” added the tribunal.
In August of this year, several months after the preservation order was issued, the B.C. Securities Commission launched a civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court to have the money in the retirement accounts forfeited to help pay Pasquill’s penalties.
Pasquill has not responded in court to that suit.
In rejecting Pasquill’s application to remove the freeze order, the tribunal noted that B.C. laws were amended in 2020 to allow the B.C. Securities Commission to pursue — or to impose freeze orders on — registered retirement accounts.
The changes to laws were part of sweeping reforms announced by the B.C. government in the fall of 2019 to strengthen the regulator’s enforcement and fine-collection powers. The legislative changes also enhanced the securities regulator’s power to freeze and seize property transferred to third parties for below market value.
The securities commission has already filed legal action, in 2018, to get access to seven properties valued at $20 million held by, or in part held by, Pasquill’s wife Vicki. That suit is meant to help recover the penalties levied against her husband.
Vicki has responded in court that the suit was an abuse of process and denied any wrongdoing.
The commission actions against the Pasquills came after a 2017 Postmedia News investigation revealed that the commission had failed to collect more than half-a-billion dollars in penalties levied over a decade. Pasquill and Lathigee were among those highlighted in the probe for not paying penalties.
The securities commission’s suit to get access to the seven properties includes the Point Grey home the Pasquills live in, assessed at $3.1 million in 2020.
The Postmedia investigation found the home had been in Pasquill and his wife’s names since 1995, but was transferred into Vicki Pasquill’s sole name in 2000 for $1, according to B.C. Land Titles documents.
The securities commission is also pursuing action in the Nevada courts in an effort to collect penalties from Lathigee.