|Beyond the SEC's Reach, Firms Sell Obscure Issues to Foreign Investors |
By JOHN R. EMSHWILLER and CHRISTOPHER COOPER
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
please visit wsj.com
The call couldn't have been timed better. Adrian Lawlor, a Dublin computer-systems salesman, and his wife had just received a $17,000 settlement from a car accident his wife had been in when a broker from International Asset Management in Brussels rang him up. Speaking with an American accent, the broker told Mr. Lawlor he had just the ticket for entering the red-hot U.S. stock market.
"They said they had a wonderful investment opportunity for me," Mr. Lawlor says.
Although "absolutely green" when it came to stocks, Mr. Lawlor decided to sink most of the settlement into the broker's recommendations. That was in 1996, and he was happy for a time and unruffled when his broker moved from Brussels to Barcelona, Spain. But then he tried to sell some shares of a small-cap issue that had begun to stumble. The broker said he would make the sale only if Mr. Lawlor agreed to plow the proceeds -- and $10,000 more -- into shares of a tiny California company called ZIASUN Technologies Inc.
A Matter for the Police
Mr. Lawlor refused and then complained to Spanish regulators. Though the brokerage was based in Barcelona, Spanish regulators said they had no jurisdiction because IAM apparently didn't sell to Spaniards. "If you consider this situation a matter of fraud," Spanish regulators wrote, "the normal procedure is to get in touch with the police."
Instead of calling the police, Mr. Lawlor managed to sell some shares "by complaining bitterly to my broker." But still, he hasn't been able to unload his biggest holding, a stake in a troubled start-up that he bought for $6,000 and that is now worth about $90. He has lost contact with his IAM broker, who went by the name Steve Young.
"An Irish citizen buying U.S. stocks through a dealer based in Spain," Mr. Lawlor says. "The whole experience made me realize how alone I was."
Alone in a growing crowd, that is. Nurtured by economic liberalization and the steady rise in U.S. markets over the past decade, legions of Europeans and Asians have developed a STRONG appetite for stock investments. Much of the focus is on the U.S.; in just the 12 months ended March 31, foreigners bought $2.8 trillion worth of U.S. shares, up 65% from the previous 12 months, the U.S. Treasury says. After accounting for stock sales, net foreign purchases totaled $159.6 billion during the period. About 85% of that was from Europe.
Many Affiliates, Many Names
But as the global investor base broadens, a big problem has arisen: Investors are often venturing into a gray area that national regulators are either unable or unwilling to police. And that makes them particularly vulnerable to the likes of International Asset Management. This outfit and its many affiliates operating under many names throughout Europe and East Asia buy shares in small, obscure U.S. companies, some linked to IAM through equity or other ties, and then sell the stock to foreigners who often are ill-informed about the companies they are investing in, the difficulty of trading the stock and their own lack of regulatory protection.
IAM officials turned down repeated requests for interviews and have refused to identify the precise location of their Barcelona offices.
In recent years, investors from Athens to Australia have purchased millions of dollars of stock in U.S. companies from IAM and its affiliates. Many, like Mr. Lawlor, have found themselves unable to sell their shares or even get stock certificates, and nearly all are unable to get help from regulators.
Guy Fletchere-Davies, a 62-year-old carpet manufacturer in Melbourne, Australia, bought ZIASUN and other small U.S. stocks over several years from the Manila office of Oxford International Management, a brokerage firm with ties to IAM. Mr. Fletchere-Davies says his account was passed around among several Oxford salespeople and then to a successor firm. Late last year, "suddenly, the phone calls stopped and paperwork dried up," he says.
The Australian has since embarked on a frantic telephone journey from Manila to Jakarta to Manhattan to the British Virgin Islands in hopes of learning the fate of the nearly $150,000 that was to be his retirement nest egg. "We don't know who to talk to,'' he says. "We don't know where to go."
Nikolas Morokutti, a 26-year-old owner of a computer business in Innsbruck, Austria, thought he knew where to go when he had trouble getting his ZIASUN share certificates from IAM. He called the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The agency, he says, told him that it couldn't help because the shares were issued under Regulation S.
These Regulation S stock sales are allowed under a 10-year-old provision of U.S. securities law that is intended to allow American public companies to raise capital from experienced foreign investors without the onerous registration process required to sell stock in the U.S. Once sold abroad, Regulation S shares cannot legally be resold to U.S. investors for at least a year; they can, however, be sold to other foreigners during that period.
While hundreds of perfectly legal and legitimate S-share transactions occur each year, unscrupulous operators have found a way to exploit Regulation S to their advantage. The way it often works, a promoter that is at least nominally based outside the U.S. buys large blocks of S shares from American issuers at deep discounts and then sells them at huge markups to neophyte investors abroad.
The SEC doesn't comment on specific cases and won't comment on the current state of Regulation S. Non-U.S. regulators aren't much help either, though they periodically warn citizens to avoid boiler-room brokers operating outside of their home country. British stock regulators recently noted a sharp rise in the number of boiler rooms in continental Europe that target English residents. "The firms are not registered here, so it's up to our counterparts in other nations to regulate them, which is very frustrating," says Sarah Modlock of Britain's Financial Services Authority.
A Lot in Common
Over the past few years, IAM and related brokerage firms have marketed shares in about a dozen small U.S. companies. Overseas customers of IAM's offices in Barcelona often receive a monthly publication called "The Capital Growth Report," which mixes glowing reviews of the small companies in IAM's stable with commentary about well-known companies such as Compaq Corp. Several of the small companies have held stock in each other, used the same investor-relations firm or employed Jones, Jensen & Co., a Salt Lake City accounting firm, which is auditor of ZIASUN, a company that looms large in IAM's pitches.
In May, the SEC filed administrative charges against the accounting firm's two named partners, R. Gordon Jones and Mark F. Jensen, for "recklessly violating professional accounting and auditing standards" in an audit of a company unrelated to ZIASUN. Mr. Jensen denies wrongdoing. Mr. Jones didn't return phone calls.
The tale of IAM and its affiliates is deeply entwined with that of ZIASUN, based in Solana Beach, Calif., just north of San Diego, in a modest ground-floor office suite nestled between a freeway and the sea. An IAM affiliate has an address on the same floor of a Hong Kong office building as ZIASUN's office in that city, and ZIASUN maintains the Web sites of IAM and of some of its affiliates.
ZIASUN has operated under various names since it was founded and went public in 1996, and it has engaged in businesses ranging from motorcycles to soda dispensers. In news releases, it now bills itself as "a leading Internet technology holding company focused on international investor education and e-commerce." About 85% of ZIASUN's 1999 revenue came from a business that operates traveling seminars on Internet stock trading for $2,995 a pop. "You Can Become a Millionaire on Regular Pay," says one seminar flier.
In an April 1999 news release, ZIASUN said its 1998 audited earnings totaled $1.15 million, on $3.5 million in revenue. When the company filed financial results with the SEC last September, the audited 1998 sales had dropped to $2.3 million. In a later SEC filing, ZIASUN again revised downward its 1998 sales, to $760,529, and cut net income to $769,320. ZIASUN earnings included profits from securities transactions involving other public companies. Some of ZIASUN's securities holdings include companies that also issue large amounts of Regulation S stock and whose shares have been sold by IAM and affiliates.
ZIASUN officials decline to be interviewed, citing a pending lawsuit filed by ZIASUN in federal court in San Francisco against a group of Internet critics of the company for allegedly mounting a "cybersmear campaign" against ZIASUN. In a written statement in response to written questions, ZIASUN officials say they are "fully committed to preserving and developing the shareholders' equity."
More than half of ZIASUN's own 27 million shares outstanding have been sold to foreigners under Regulation S, according to the company's SEC filings. In two transactions in 1997, ZIASUN sold 15 million shares at 10 cents a share under Regulation S to foreign investors, whose identities didn't have to be disclosed in public records. At about the same time, investors in Europe and Asia say they received calls from salesmen from IAM and related brokerages offering ZIASUN stock at $4.50 or more a share. In the U.S. during the same period, ZIASUN, under previous corporate names, was trading on the Nasdaq Bulletin Board at between $1.25 and $5.50 a share on average daily volume of several thousand shares.
Vladimir Kaplan, a Zurich doctor, bought some of those ZIASUN S shares. His Barcelona-based IAM broker, Lynn Briggs, offered ZIASUN at $4.50 a share on Oct. 7, 1998 -- when the stock was trading in the U.S. for between $2.50 and $4 a share. Unable at the time to independently determine ZIASUN's stock price, Dr. Kaplan bought nearly 8,000 shares to start, and more over the ensuing weeks. Dr. Kaplan knew his broker as a senior portfolio manager at IAM and trusted his judgment, especially after Mr. Briggs flew to Zurich to make a personal sales call. What he says he didn't know: According to SEC filings, Mr. Briggs also was one of ZIASUN's founders. Mr. Briggs couldn't be located for comment.
Tapping Overseas Buyers
Titan Motorcycle Co., a Phoenix, Ariz., motorcycle manufacturer, is another favorite of IAM brokers. Between 1996 and 1998, Titan issued about 5.3 million shares of Regulations S securities in chunks to unidentified overseas buyers for an average price of $1.32 a share, even as clients such as Dr. Kaplan were purchasing stock in the company for far more. According to SEC filings, about a third of the company's total shares outstanding have been sold to foreigners.
Titan officials didn't return calls. In a brief written statement, Titan Chief Executive Frank Keery said that all company Regulation S sales "were conducted precisely as required by law." Titan's "knowledge of subsequent resale activities is essentially nil as these resales take place exclusively outside the U.S.A.," he added.
ZIASUN and Titan have something in common besides IAM. Bryant CRAGUN, a former president and chief executive of ZIASUN and now a consultant to the company, describes himself in court documents as "investment adviser and fund-raiser" for ZIASUN, Titan and other small companies whose shares are sold by IAM and related brokerages. He co-owns four Titan motorcycle dealerships.
Several investors say their brokers referred to Mr. CRAGUN as a senior official of IAM. Stefan Van Rooyen, a Swiss investor, says he was told by his Barcelona-based broker in June that Mr. CRAGUN was IAM's president. A recent SEC filing shows IAM has the same U.S. address as Mr. CRAGUN, at a gated condominium project in Solana Beach, not far from ZIASUN's headquarters.
In a letter, Mr. CRAGUN says he was never an IAM officer. He says he leases the condominium in Solana Beach. He acknowledges that between 1991 and 1997, he was chairman of Oxford International, a Philippine brokerage firm that markets many of the stocks IAM touts and that, according to SEC filings, has bought Regulation S shares in two such companies.
Mr. CRAGUN says the SEC spent five years investigating his role in selling Regulation S shares overseas and "never filed anything against me." An SEC spokesman declines to comment. An offering statement for an overseas investment fund founded by Mr. CRAGUN says he has a U.S. securities broker's license. The National Association of Securities Dealers says its records show that Mr. CRAGUN hasn't held a license since 1988. Mr. CRAGUN, in a written response, says that putting his license status in the present tense was a "typographical error."
Mr. CRAGUN says he sold his interest in Oxford in 1997 to a company headed by William STRONG, who shows up as an account representative on monthly statements received by several IAM customers. Mr. STRONG, who says he was merely an IAM consultant, confirms that he bought Oxford. He says IAM and Oxford are "essentially the same company. They are two different entities in the same arena with the same people."
In an April filing, Titan said it issued 724,638 shares of Regulation S stock early this year to Oxford International in connection with a 1996 loan. As Oxford's owner, Mr. STRONG says he never received any of the stock (doing so could violate Regulation S, since he's an American). Titan officials didn't respond to questions on this matter.
No Outward Signs
In Barcelona, IAM has in the past shared offices, telephones and personnel with at least three other brokerage firms -- including one owned for at least a time by Mr. STRONG. But the exact location of IAM's current office is a mystery. A phone receptionist provides only a mailing address. That address leads to a small office building that has no identifying signs and that on three visits during business hours was locked and dark. Another location, often cited on IAM's correspondence, is an unmarked and rundown suite of offices in an unfashionable part of town staffed by a woman who appears to run a phone service for dozens of companies. A woman who answered the phone at the firm's Manila office said all sales operations had ceased.
Several investors say their brokers, though hard to locate, have recently been pushing them to exchange stock in ZIASUN and other companies for shares in a British Virgin Islands-registered mutual fund called the Morgan Fund. Mr. Fletchere-Davies says he agreed to move his money into the Morgan Fund as an alternative to losing a large chunk of his investment in individual stocks, though he says he has been told he might not be able to cash out of the fund for at least several months.
A Morgan Fund brochure shows that Mr. CRAGUN, the former ZIASUN executive and former Oxford owner, is one of the fund's two directors. Mr. CRAGUN says he set up the fund because buying companies' shares directly "is way too much risk to individual investors."
Write to JOHN R. EMSHWILLER at JOHN.firstname.lastname@example.org and Christopher Cooper at email@example.com
Stock promoter's divorce reveals life of luxury
Saturday, May 13, 2006
CREDIT: Vancouver Sun/Handout
From 1986 to 1997, Vancouver businessman Mark HARRIS worked in phone rooms that used high-pressure methods to sell stocks, most of dubious value, to people all over the world.
For more than a decade, Vancouver businessman Mark HARRIS made a fortune running boiler rooms -- high-pressure telephone stock sales operations -- in Europe and Asia. Unfortunately for his net worth, his wife Lori made a career out of spending it.
From 1986 to 1997, HARRIS worked in phone rooms that used high-pressure methods to sell stocks, most of dubious value, to people all over the world. Initially, he manned the phones himself, but eventually became involved in setting up and overseeing the sales operations.
For various reasons, some of them regulatory, he moved often -- from Spain to Hong Kong, Macau, back to Hong Kong, then to the Philippines, California and finally Vancouver. Throughout most of this period, he worked closely with BRYANT CRAGUN, owner of a boiler room operation that was rather grandly called Oxford International Management.
Wherever he went, Lori followed. It was a nomadic existence, but it had its rewards. In his peak earning years, he made more than $500,000 US a year.
Neither of them was shy about spending it. They employed a maid, a gardener, a chauffeur, even a dog-walker. Every year, for Lori's birthday, they went to Italy. During the beach season, they spent weekends on Boracay Island, about 90 minutes from Manila.
Aside from the occasional modelling job, Lori HARRIS did not work. She took Spanish lessons, she played tennis, she flew to Hong Kong to have her hair done. But mostly she shopped.
She bought Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and other expensive designer clothes. When her credit card at Saks Fifth Avenue exceeded her limit, she simply opened another account and purchased an $8,000 full-length mink coat. She shopped so much that she hired a personal shopper to help her.
In 1995, the couple began construction of a mansion on an acre of land in Osoyoos. The project, originally budgeted at 3,000 square feet and $500,000, ballooned to 6,000 square feet and $3 million, including an outdoor dining area modelled after the Four Seasons Resort in Bali and five Versace carpets costing more than $100,000.
In 1997, HARRIS returned to Vancouver to provide investor relations services for many of the same companies he had been selling by phone. Business was initially good, but by 2000, the market had collapsed. His income was decimated and his marriage in a shambles. In 2002 they separated.
Unable to agree on a division of assets, the couple went to court. In a 10-day trial earlier this year, and in a 14-page decision released just days ago, their private lives were laid bare, providing unique insight into the controversial and lucrative business of boiler room operators.
Not mentioned are the people who bought stock from HARRIS's telemarketers. According to newspaper accounts, court records and securities filings, many of them lost substantial amounts of money.
One was Guy Fletchere-Davies, a 62-year-old carpet manufacturer in Melbourne, Australia. He told the Wall Street Journal in August 2000 that he bought shares of ZIASUN Technologies Inc., which traded on the dreadful OTC Bulletin Board in the U.S., and several other junior stocks, from the Manila office of Oxford International Management, where HARRIS ran the telemarketing operation.
Fletchere-Davies said his brokerage account was passed around among several Oxford salespeople, then to a successor firm. In late 1999, "the phone calls stopped and the paperwork dried up." ZIASUN collapsed and he lost $150,000.
By this time, HARRIS had left Oxford and at CRAGUN's behest he had set up an investor relations business, Veritas Marketing & Communications Group Ltd., with offices in Vancouver and Solana Beach, Calif., to help promote ZIASUN and other stocks that Oxford was selling.
Oxford and Veritas have since shut down and CRAGUN has reportedly retired, but HARRIS continues to provide investor relations services through a private firm, Skylla Capital Corp., which operates out of a corner office in Park Place in downtown Vancouver.
Skylla is the grotesque six-headed monster in Greek mythology that swooped down on passing ships and sea creatures, but HARRIS denies that any of his business activities have been predatory: "Every company I have been associated with was fully registered and all the companies we recommended were legitimate," he said in an interview this week.
HARRIS is now 49, but his boyish good looks make him appear much younger. He dresses and speaks in a casual but calculated way. His cell phone rings incessantly. For the most part, he ignores the calls to focus on a Vancouver Sun reporter who, uninvited and unannounced, has dropped into his office.
According to the divorce action, HARRIS was born and raised in Calgary. He dropped out of school in Grade 11 and worked at a steel mill, as a truck driver, at McDonald's, and as a car salesman.
In 1986, he met and married Lori, seven years his junior. He began training as a stock broker, then a friend offered him a job with a firm called Indigo Investments in Torremolinos, Spain.
"He immediately began work as a telemarketer persuading prospective clients to purchase stock in companies," Judge Linda Loo noted in her judgment.
It was clear that he had an aptitude for the job. He made $5,000 in his first month. The following year, he got a better job as "telemarketing sales manager" for a firm called Equity Management Services in Marbella, Spain. It paid $10,000 per month plus a percentage of the business that the phone room generated.
However, the judge noted, "the job ended abruptly after about a year when the payroll failed to materialize." HARRIS told The Sun he's "not 100 per cent sure why it shut down." But in the fluid world of boiler rooms, such businesses disappear and reappear with alarming frequency and speed. In this instance, the phone team was offered similar work in Hong Kong starting the following week.
Within five months, HARRIS was back making $10,000 per month, but once again, the job suddenly ended, this time when the Hong Kong Securities and Exchange Commission intervened. Why the commission intervened is not explained.
HARRIS found work in a similar operation in Macau, but the couple found the living and working conditions unagreeable, so they decided to use their savings to travel throughout Europe and Asia.
In 1990, HARRIS returned to Hong Kong and teamed with BRYANT CRAGUN, a former senior vice-president with Goldman Sachs, in another telemarketing operation. Within months, however, Hong Kong regulators once again stepped in and the phone room was shut down. Once again, no reason is given. HARRIS told The Sun that, to meet capital requirements, the firm had posted shares of an OTC Bulletin Board company rather than a Nasdaq company, and the authorities refused to accept them.
The following year, in April 1991, CRAGUN established another telemarketing business in the Philippines, Oxford International Management, which styled itself as a "U.S. equity fund manager." He hired HARRIS to manage the phone room, with huge success.
Within four months, HARRIS was making $10,000 US per month, plus a percentage of sales. By 1993, the firm had grown to 50 employees and he was making more than $250,000 US per year. By 1995, the firm had offices in Spain, Brussels, Taipei, Indonesia and Bangkok, and he was making $500,000 US annually.
Life was good. The couple travelled extensively. Each Christmas they stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bali. During the summer, they spent weekends on Boracay Beach, where HARRIS invested $200,000 in an aquasports business which provided them with boats and jet skis, but generated nothing in the way of profits. They also invested $85,000 in an Indian cuisine restaurant in nearby Subic Bay.
Lori was, by all accounts, an excellent hostess. She entertained HARRIS's business colleagues at Boracay Beach and helped arrange Oxford's annual Christmas party, which was attended by up to 400 guests. She also attended dinner meetings with Mark's clients and prospective clients.
"He considered his wife an asset because together, they were an attractive, well-dressed couple," Loo noted. But other than spending money, the judge said, "she took almost no interest in her husband's work or their finances."
In an interview this week, Lori HARRIS said she understood her husband was involved in "venture capital," but didn't know any details. "I knew it was telemarketing, but I didn't know the stocks or the names of the companies he was promoting," she said.
Oxford had a stable of junior companies that it organized, financed and promoted to retail investors. Among them were ZIASUN Technologies Inc. and Chequemate International Inc.
Both were listed on the OTC Bulletin Board, a trading forum that is virtually unregulated. In fact, prior to 1999, bulletin board companies didn't even have to issue financial statements.
ZIASUN and Chequemate financed their businesses by selling large blocks of stocks to foreign purchasers under a U.S. securities rule known as Regulation S.
Under this rule, issuers can avoid going through the onerous process of a registered stock offering by placing the shares with "accredited investors" outside the country. The condition is that these shares cannot be sold back to U.S. investors for at least a year.
CRAGUN, as an officer and director of ZIASUN and Chequemate, arranged for these companies to sell large blocks of unregistered stock to Oxford and related boiler rooms, which marked up the share price and hyped them to investors in foreign jurisdictions.
Problem was, neither Oxford nor its employees were registered to sell stock in Ireland, Switzerland, Australia or any of the others countries where the purchasers were located. Also, the companies were long on puffery and short on substance, which made them exceedingly risky investments.
According to a June 2002 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of Oxford's clients was Australian rancher Wally Peart. Starting in 1994, he bought seven stocks from Oxford, including Chequemate, for a total investment of $130,000 US. Little did he know, but all of the companies had close ties to CRAGUN and associates.
Peart told the newspaper that, on Oxford's advice, he never sold any of the shares, ostensibly to maximize long-term gains. "Everything seemed to work OK, and they often invited me to visit them in Manila," Peart is quoted as saying. "However, in 1999, it all folded and my retirement fund disappeared."
HARRIS rejects the characterization of Oxford as a "boiler room." He said the firm made sure it was licensed in every jurisdiction in which it sold stock. However, when asked if the firm was licensed to sell stock to Australian investors such as Peart, he replied: "I can't answer that question. I don't know exactly."
He also said the companies that Oxford recommended were all legitimate companies and a lot of Oxford clients made money. "I bought IBM and lost a lot of money on it. It's all based on timing," he said.
He also said neither he nor CRAGUN have ever been accused of wrong-doing. CRAGUN told the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission spent five years investigating his role in selling Regulation S shares overseas and it "never filed anything against me."
A large chunk of money supplied by investors like Peart found its way back to B.C.
The HARRIS's bought the acre of land in Osoyoos and began constructing their mansion. It had seven bathrooms and marble tiling throughout, even in the mechanical and laundry rooms.
They paid $35,000 for chandeliers, $40,000 for a wrought iron staircase and $25,000 for a desk for Mark's home office. In all, they spent $225,000 on furnishings. The total cost was more than $3 million. "It is the most expensive house in Osoyoos," the judge observed.
But the gravy train was coming to a halt. By 1996, Oxford had over 10,000 clients, but according to Loo, the stock market had turned and HARRIS "was forced to deal with unhappy investors."
CRAGUN opened an investment banking business in San Diego and invited HARRIS to join him. In October 1997, Mark and Lori moved to Del Mar, just outside San Diego, and rented a 3,200-square-foot ocean-view home for $4,750 a month. They also bought a Porsche 911 for $96,000 US and a 540 BMW for $65,000 US.
Within a few months, CRAGUN decided he wanted HARRIS to help him support the public companies that he was promoting. So HARRIS incorporated Veritas Marketing & Communications with offices in Vancouver and Solana Beach, Calif. He commuted back and forth, spending Tuesdays to Friday in Vancouver, and Saturday to Monday in Del Mar.
Veritas provided investor relations services for several companies, including ZIASUN. At its peak, it had 20 employees, but it was not a lucrative enterprise. HARRIS was paid in shares, which initially soared in value, but by the time they became free-trading, the share price had collapsed. ZIASUN, for example, rose to $30, but plunged to 30 cents by the time they were cleared for trading.
In 2001, HARRIS's total income slumped to $10,000, but Lori could not adjust to this new financial reality. As Judge Loo remarked: "Her passion for high-end designer fashions continued undeterred." Among the items she bought, over her husband's objections, was an $8,000 full-length mink coat from Saks. The following month, in September 2002, they separated.
"There is no doubt that Ms. HARRIS has a clothes-buying habit," the judge observed.
Since their separation, Lori has been living in the Osoyoos mansion, but Judge Loo has ordered that it be sold and net proceeds divided between them. She also ordered Mark to pay $150,000 spousal support in two equal instalments in January 2007 and January 2008.
It is not clear what Lori will do. "Mr. HARRIS has suggested avenues Ms. HARRIS might explore, such as being a veterinary assistant, because she loves animals, or being a personal shopper, because she has exquisite taste and enjoys interacting with people," Loo noted.
However, she added, Lori "has taken no real steps towards finding work or training because she claims she is too emotionally distraught...."
In 2003, Mark returned to Marbella, Spain, to set up offices for another telemarketing firm called Global Capital Asset Advisors. At about the same time, he began a common-law relationship with Jonni-Colleen Sissons, then a broker with IPO Capital Corp.
In January 2004, Sissons gave birth to their son in Malaga, Spain, and they have since returned to Vancouver. Sissons is now registered with Northern Securities and Mark is pursing his investors relations business through Skylla Capital.
He refuses to say who his clients are: "I have been advised by my lawyer not to say anything further to you."
© The Vancouver Sun 2006
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