TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) today announced that Bernard Justin Sevilla, a resident of the United Kingdom (UK), has been sentenced to 6 years in jail for fraud-related criminal convictions. Mr. Sevilla was sentenced on December 16, 2021 by Justice L. Chapin of the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto.
Mr. Sevilla pled guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 and one count of possession of property obtained by crime contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada. Mr. Sevilla was arrested in the UK in October 2020 following an extradition request by the OSC. In October 2020, Sevilla was arrested pursuant to the extradition request and held in custody in the UK. In October 2021, he was extradited to Canada to face justice.
“The sentence imposed today recognizes the significance of Mr. Sevilla’s crimes, which had a devastating impact on Ontario investors, many of whom were elderly or vulnerable,” said Jeff Kehoe, Director of Enforcement at the OSC. “We will continue to devote significant investigative resources to seek out and bring to justice people who choose to harm Ontario investors, wherever they reside.”
The convictions relate to a complex international fraud scheme targeting Ontario investors coordinated by Mr. Sevilla while residing in the UK. Mr. Sevilla and an accomplice purchased airtime on local Ontario radio stations to solicit investments in a foreign exchange scheme called Trans-Atlantic Direct (TAD). Mr. Sevilla (using the alias “Martin Schwartz”) and his accomplice would present one-hour “infomercials” and solicit investments.
Investors were encouraged to register an account on TAD’s website and send their funds to offshore bank accounts in Spain, so TAD could purportedly trade foreign exchange contracts on their behalf. Approximately 100 Ontario investors from communities across the province invested more than $6 million with TAD, but an investigation revealed that no foreign exchange trading ever took place. Invested funds were used by Mr. Sevilla and his accomplice to support their lifestyles.
Many of the investors in the TAD scheme were elderly or vulnerable, and several lost significant amounts of money. In her reasons, Madame Justice Chapin described the effect of this scheme on many of the investors as “devastating.”
“The OSC will continue to use all investigative tools available, in cooperation with our law enforcement partners, to protect Ontario investors and hold the fraudsters who target them accountable,” said Kehoe. “This outcome sends a clear message that those who scheme to defraud Ontario investors cannot hide behind international borders.”
The OSC acknowledges the assistance of the UK West Yorkshire Police, in particular Detective Constable Dan Crumbley, Crown Law Criminal, the International Assistance Group, the UK National Extradition Unit, the UK International Crime Coordination Center, Detective Sergeant Chris French and other members of the Toronto Police Service Fugitive Squad for their significant assistance in this case.
This investigation was conducted by a team within the OSC Enforcement branch that investigates quasi-criminal and criminal offences related to securities, including the investigation of alleged recidivists. Their primary objective is to protect investors and further enhance confidence in the Canadian capital markets through effective enforcement.
To date, OSC Enforcement has pursued 56 quasi-criminal and criminal matters involving 80 accused.
Charges laid under the Securities Act are prosecuted by the OSC. Charges laid under the Criminal Code are prosecuted by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The mandate of the OSC is to provide protection to investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices, to foster fair, efficient and competitive capital markets and confidence in the capital markets, to foster capital formation, and to contribute to the stability of the financial system and the reduction of systemic risk. Investors are urged to check the registration of any persons or company offering an investment opportunity and to review the OSC investor materials available at http://www.osc.ca.
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