|Asean Holdings Inc - Street Wire Asean's Saxena confirms Possino in Austrian fiasco|
Asean Holdings Inc
Shares issued 15,750,552
Thu 21 Feb 2002 Street
by Brent Mudry
A key player behind Raoul Berthaumieu of Belgium, the front man in
fraudulent $1-billion collapse of General Commerce Bank SA in Austria
year, was Regis Possino, a disbarred California lawyer who has
especially active in controversial penny stock promotions in recent
(All figures are in U.S. dollars.)
According to a lawsuit filed this week in Vancouver, one of
Commerce Bank's most notable victims was fugitive Thai financier
Saxena, an alleged key player, along with close associate Adnan
the former Vancouver Stock Exchange player, now Paris-based
arms merchant, in the fraudulent $2-billion collapse of Bangkok Bank
Commerce in 1996.
Mr. Saxena, who claims he lost $10-million in the Austrian bank fiasco,
not known for being taken in by frauds of any size. "This is the first
it has happened to me," he told Stockwatch. The fugitive
arrested at Whistler in July, 1996, three weeks after his presence in
Vancouver area was revealed by Stockwatch, remains under house arrest
Vancouver as he appeals his order of extradition back to Thailand.
Everything looked fine up front at first, according to Mr. Saxena.
guy calls me from a bank in Austria ... I look and see it's in the
Mr. Saxena points out that Austria's banking industry generally has a
reputation, and "anything which smells German" usually gives
international high-finance circles.
Unfortunately, although Mr. Berthaumieu, alias Lee Sanders, posed
General Commerce Bank's chairman, he was not really in control,
to Mr. Saxena. "It appears from day one he did not have signing
Mr. Berthaumieu boasts a credential few bank chairmen possess: a
conviction in Los Angeles for felony bank fraud for writing
rubber cheques. The bogus banker was bounced from the United
about 1999, when he was deported to Belgium, his country of birth,
he is believed to be a Canadian national, formerly from Hamilton, Ont.
The Thai financier Mr. Saxena, an Indian national, points his finger
at Austrian banking officials for the General Commerce Bank mess. "I
the Austrians. If it was in the Caribbean, you can blame me," says
Saxena, noting one does not expect banking frauds in Austria.
While any such loss for a man of Mr. Saxena's stature is disappointing
even embarrassing, cushioning the blow is the fact that he lost paper,
$10-million of cold hard cash. "I lost a lot of stock. I lost three or
million shares of companies I had investments in, not
controlled." While the victimized financier did not identify these
four companies, he notes he had invested in some of the companies
anywhere from two to eight years. The shares were assorted,
quantity of restricted shares.
Mr. Saxena also confirms Regis Michael Possino, who operates out of
Monica, Calif., was a major behind-the-scenes player at General
Mr. Possino is one of those colourful characters who suffer
after misfortune, but keep bouncing back in big-league cases. The State
of California disbarred him about 17 years ago, just because of
entrepreneurial moonlighting in the marijuana industry, which it
crime involving moral turpitude," and a few other youthful
Mr. Possino wasted little time making a name for himself after
admitted to the bar in 1972. A mere four years later, in 1976, he
privately rebuked for wrongfully causing an employee to make a
This was peanuts, however, compared to his antics in 1975. In November
December of that year, the budding young lawyer attempted to sell
marijuana to undercover Los Angeles police officers, a mere 350 pounds
the weed. In November, Mr. Possino had offered to sell 1,000
half a ton, of pot to the officers, but they suggested they could
handle a smaller amount. During several meetings over the following
weeks, Mr. Possino negotiated the deal, delivered samples of
merchandise, and calculated that his profit on 350 pounds would be
$38,500, which is not bad pay for a struggling young lawyer.
Once Mr. Possino had his buyers on the hook, he sought to up the ante
diversify his merchandise. During the marijuana negotations, he
buy some cocaine from the undercover officers. "He told the officers
he was an attorney and was acting on behalf of several groups who
purchase eight to 10 kilograms of cocaine twice a month at a price
$34,000 per kilo. However, these negotiations ended when one of
undercover officers said he would not be able to obtain any cocaine
Christmas," states a disbarment document filed in the Supreme
While these dealings might sound ambitious enough, this was just
At one of the meetings, Mr. Possino offered to sell $5-million worth
stolen treasury bills or bearer bonds to the undercover agents.
subsequent meeting, the officers brought along an undercover agent of
United States Treasury Department, introducing him as a cousin of
the undercover narcotics officers and a dealer in stolen
states the document.
Although Mr. Possino and the treasury agent negotiated a purchase price
20 cents on the dollar, the young lawyer never came through with the
and later told the agent he had negotiated a better price with
buyer. Through this big-league negotations, Mr. Possino represented
as an attorney and produced identification as a deputy or former deputy
the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. (He was a former deputy by
While everything seemed to be going well, Mr. Possino had little
celebrate that Christmas. He was arrested on Dec. 23, 1975,
attempting to deliver the first shipment of 50 pounds of marijuana to
undercover officers, and charged on four counts. Mr. Possino, who was
27 years old at the time, took a self-imposed holiday from the
profession in 1976 and 1977.
After his arrest, Mr. Possino was released on his own recognizance
trial. At trial, in late 1977, he was convicted on one count, but
troubles were not over.
One evening during the trial, Mr. Possino bumped into one of the jurors
a restaurant, where she was waiting for a table. While most lawyers
defendants would at least try to play shy, not Mr. Possino. He walked
the juror, started chatting with her, and ended up buying drinks for
and her friends.
Mr. Possino asked the juror what she thought of the prosecutor.
stopped short of talking about the merits of the case, Mr. Possino
talked to the juror about himself, others involved in the trial and
judge. Once he learned the juror was a religious person, he
discussing his own religious beliefs with her. This little chat ended
the juror and her companions were called to dinner.
After mulling all this over and digesting her dinner, the
California juror decided she could not stomach what had just gone down.
approached Mr. Possino, told him she was upset about their chat, and
she felt it was improper. Mr. Possino told her that whatever she did
be "all right" with him. Soon after, she reported the restaurant
to the judge and was excused from the jury.
The trial judge told Mr. Possino his behaviour amounted to contempt
court, as he has indirectly attempted to influence her and had violated
ethical obligations as a lawyer. The judge revoked Mr.
recognizance release, locked him up for the rest of the trial and
transcript of the juror's testimony on the encounter to the state bar.
Mr. Possino was subsequently convicted in 1978 in the drug case,
one-year term of imprisonment in county jail and put on probation for
years with various conditions. The sentence was upheld on appeal on
Although the criminal case was over, Mr. Possino's disciplinary case
the state bar was yet to begin. The evidentiary hearings started in
and Mr. Possino was officially disbarred by the state's supreme court
Nov. 5, 1984, although he subsequently fought, and lost, an appeal.
In one of the odd serendipities of Howe Street, one of Mr. Possino's
clients was John Meier, the controversial former top aide to Howard
the reclusive late legendary billionaire. Mr. Possino represented Mr.
during one of two extradition fights which ended with the Hughes aide
sent from refuge in Vancouver to face justice in the U.S., although
Meier claims he was repeatedly victimized in a massive CIA conspiracy.
After a lengthy and controversial investigation by the RCMP and the
Mr. Meier had been charged years later with conspiracy to murder
Wayne Netter, a business associate and Howe Street stock promoter who
stabbed 15 times in his underwear just after midnight on Nov. 29,
after letting a visitor into his suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel
Beverly Hills, Calif. Mr. Meier was charged as the prime suspect
Mr. Meier, who first appeared in the Vancouver area in 1972,
consultant for Mr. Netter's penny stock company, Transcontinental
Mr. Netter's murder capped a rough year. The Howe Street promoter
the alias Alfred Baron to hide his financial affairs from his
wife, leading to his conviction for perjury in September, 1974,
sentenced to four years in jail.
Mr. Netter, out on bail, made his ill-fated trip down to Los Angeles a
months later. During the murder trial years later, Mr. Meier
was far away, having flown that fateful day to Calgary, where he met
Ralph Buchmann, a stock promoter for Transcontinental Video.
(In an unrelated deal, a Ralph Buchmann, presumably the same fellow,
up in 1999 as a private placement shareholder of Biometric Security, a
Street promotion which featured a number of associates of
expatriate Vancouver promoter Harry Moll but not Nick Masee, the
Moll private banker who vanished a few years earlier.)
Mr. Meier was eventually charged, along with Vancouver lawyer
Hazelwood, with conspiring to have Mr. Netter murdered to collect
insurance policy, but the high-profile case later crumbled in court.
After a lengthy headline extradition fight, Mr. Justice Samuel Toy
Mr. Meier extradited to Los Angeles in late 1983. Although Mr. Possino
been representing Mr. Meier, he had to hand over the reigns to
lawyer due to his own legal troubles in 1984, facing imminent
In another intriguing twist, controversial former RCMP officer Pat
took over the Netter murder probe in 1978.
By the time of the murder trial in Los Angeles, Mr. Westphal's own
had taken a dive.
Mr. Westphal was one of three sergeants in the RCMP's Vancouver
crime section who suffered the misfortune of being internal
targets back in 1982 for their dealings in shares of Ayerok Petroleum
whose promoter, Norm Newsom, was under criminal investigation by
The trio left the respected police force to become penny stock
One of the Mounties, James Hirst, quit the RCMP, where he worked, of
places, in the market manipulation squad, in March, 1991, to join
The other two, Sergeant Westphal and Sergeant Ed Gallagher,
transferred out to smaller detachments in Vancouver suburbs after
internal investigation by an RCMP commercial crime staff sergeant
from Toronto to review the Ayerok affair. No allegations of wrongdoing
made against the trio, who all maintained an officially clean record
Meanwhile, Ayerok president Mr. Newsom, a senior member of
first family of stock-market violators, was charged with
Ayerok's treasury of $692,000 (Canadian) and convicted later in 1982.
Mr. Westphal's former Mountie/Ayerok associate, Mr. Gallagher, has had
own troubles with the law lately. Mr. Gallagher, the former
CDNX-listed Global Cogenix Industrial Corp., was arrested and charged
September, 2000, with nine counts of fraud, theft and forgery
fraudulent issuances of 150,000 Cogenix shares through nominees, valued
a total of $75,000 (Canadian). The arrest capped a 14-month
investigation into the ex-cop-turned-promoter's Cogenix affairs.
The Ayerok fiasco was duly noted during Mr. Meier's murder trial, when
was brought up by his defence lawyer.
"Ayerok is a company, a Canadian company, Corporal Westphal was
with the company. So is another investigating officer in this case by
name of Hirst and Mr. Michael Brenner," lawyer Earl Durham told the
With Mr. Brenner, the prosecutor, protesting, the befuddled judge asked
"In addition Mr. Brenner is a stockholder in that company. We are
that the relationship between Mr. Brenner, as the prosecuting attorney,
the investigating officers in Canada, as well as witnesses, are
incestuous as to create bias in terms of prosecution of this case,"
Durham told the court.
While this intriguing line of courtroom banter was soon shut down,
Meier much later gained vindication when the murder case crumbled.
As for Mr. Westphal, after leaving the RCMP, he served in
relations roles with a number of Vancouver stock promotions, and
two-year stint as president of the Newsom family's VSE-listed CT
Ltd. from 1984 to 1986. Exploranda's notable alumni include
stock promoter Beverlee Kamerling, then known as Beverlee Claydon, who
fined $1.1-million a few years ago by the Securities and
Mr. Westphal now lives in Henderson, Nev., and heads a Las Vegas
stock promotion called International Star Inc., which features a
company of New York Mafia-linked penny stock rogues Peter Berney and
Potter as its second biggest shareholder.
As for Mr. Possino, he is obviously off to bigger and better things.
(c) Copyright 2002 Canjex Publishing Ltd. www.stockwatch.com