September 11, 2009
Vancouver - The British Columbia Securities Commission has settled with two individuals who admitted to contravening various securities laws when they solicited funds for a failed investment scheme that raised approximately $9.6 million from 943 investors.
In a BCSC settlement agreement, Kerry John O’Neill, a Richmond resident, admitted to being the principal of an investment scheme called the Pay it Forward Program. O’Neill admitted that he told investors that their funds would be used to buy and sell distressed merchandise, and they could expect between 100 per cent (their initial investment) and 300 per cent return within 90 days.
O’Neill admitted that he committed securities fraud when he used just under $1.1 million of investors’ money to purchase merchandise, approximately $6.4 million to pay amounts due to other investors, $56,000 for his personal expenses, and $213,000 for other investment opportunities. O’Neill used the remainder of the investors’ funds for expenses related to the distressed merchandise business.
Under the settlement agreement, O’Neill is permanently banned, except in limited circumstances, from buying or selling securities. He is also permanently prohibited from acting as a director or officer of an issuer, registrant, or investment fund manager, acting as a manager or consultant in connection with securities industry, and engaging in investor relations.
In a separate settlement agreement, Renee Marie Helmig (a.k.a. Nisha Helmig), a North Vancouver resident, admitted that she used false information provided by O’Neill to make misrepresentations to investors and potential investors to convince them to invest in Pay it Forward.
For her role in the investment scheme, Helmig is banned for 10 years, except in limited circumstances, from buying or selling securities. She is also prohibited for 10 years from acting as a director of officer of an issuer, registrant, or investment fund manager, acting as manager or consultant in connection with the securities industry, and engaging investor relations.
Under the settlements, the BCSC acknowledged that there is no reasonable prospect of O’Neill or Helmig paying fines of $500,000 or $100,000 respectively, which would otherwise have been assessed in this matter.
The B.C. Securities Commission is the independent provincial government agency responsible for regulating trading in securities within the province. You may view the settlement on our website www.bcsc.bc.ca by typing in the search box, Kerry John O’Neill or Renee Marie Helmig or 2009 BCSECCOM 516 or 513. If you have questions, contact Ken Gracey, media relations, 604-899-6577.
Learn how to avoid investment fraud at the BCSC's investor education website: www.investright.org .