When Paul Messier Jr. pled guilty in mid-January to 10 counts before Court of Quebec Justice Jean-Pierre Boyer, it marked the nineteenth conviction against individuals in the Mount Real financial scandal.
Quebec’s securities watchdog, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) accused Messier of aiding Mount Real Acceptance Corporation and Investissements Real Vest Ltée. with illegal distribution, and acting as a securities dealer or adviser without being registered. He was fined $104,000.
After a three-year investigation involving six investigators who sifted through 375 boxes of evidence and 1.5 million e-mails and other electronic documents, the AMF filed four years ago 619 charges against 24 individuals who acted as representatives in the matter of Mount Real Corporation and its subsidiaries. So far, 19 have been found guilty on 498 charges, and fined a total of $2.3 million.
Mount Real was a firm that provided management and accounting service and strategic advice to companies and individuals. Its principal business activity, though, was selling magazine subscriptions. In operation from 1997 to 2005, Mount Real’s structure was extremely complex, with up to 120 companies linked to it. A Toronto Stock Exchange listed company, the company boasted $5.7-million in revenues and $89.7-million in assets in fiscal 2004. In November 2005, the Quebec securities regulator shut down its offices after a probe.
Approximately 1,600 retail investors lost $130-million on unregistered investment notes issued by Mount-Real and its affiliated companies.