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Calgary firm raised $58-million while misrepresenting facts to investors: regulator

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A Calgary investment firm improperly raised over $58-million from investors while making misrepresentations about a series of investment funds seeking financing, the Alberta Securities Commission alleged Friday.

The ASC said Calgary-based Platinum Equities Inc. raised financing for five investment pools between 2005 and 2011 while making misrepresentations and improper promises about the details of the investments and the anticipated returns from the funds.

Company founders Shariff Chandran and Chitra Chandran were also named in the ASC case. The men could not be immediately reached Friday for comment.

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Platinum Equities described itself as a syndication vehicle for commercial real estate development projects primarily in the Calgary area.

But the ASC said the investment funds did not provide proper offering documentation to investors and did not ensure investors qualified for exemptions from prospectus requirements. The funds instead distributed units to investors who were ineligible to participate, the regulator said.

The ASC's action comes after a group of investors filed a class action lawsuit against Platinum Equities in June, saying at least 2,200 investors lost $160-million investing with the firm. Hundreds of investors attended a town hall meeting in Calgary earlier this week for an update on the status of the claim.

The ASC's notice of hearing alleges Platinum raised $10.3-million for the Deerfoot Court LP in 2006 after investors were improperly told they could expect to double their money and that the investments were "safe." The partnership ceased making distributions in 2009 and in 2011 its assets were sold and the fund was placed into bankruptcy.

The ASC said the Glenmore & Centre Retail LP, launched in 2008 after raising $3.9-million, only made sporadic distributions to investors and ceased all payments in 2011. Investors were improperly told their fund were "secured" by commercial real estate and the distributions were "protected," the ASC alleged.

The Platinum 5 Acres LP, which raised $21-million in 2008, saw its properties transferred to their mortgage holder in 2011 under a court-ordered foreclosure. The Qualia VI LP, which raised $16-million, was placed into receivership in 2011 and its assets were sold under court supervision.

The ASC said PMIC II Investment Ltd., described as a mortgage investment corporation that would invest in a portfolio of mortgages, raised $7.2-million in 2005 but ceased making distributions in 2009.

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About the Author
Real Estate Reporter

Janet McFarland is the real estate reporter for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, with a focus on residential real estate trends. She joined Report on Business in 1995, and has specialized in reporting on corporate governance, executive compensation, pension policy, business law, securities regulation and enforcement of white-collar crime. More

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