WHERE’S THE MONEY?
Darlene Saxinger is worried she has lost $37,000 that she invested through saskatoon financial adviser Vince Mullee, who has been ordered to stop trading securities. there are allegations more than a dozen investors have lost at least $2 million.
Darlene Saxinger wants some answers.
The single mother from Saskatoon wants to know what happened to the $37,000 she signed over to Vincent John Mullee, her parents’ trusted financial adviser, for him to invest in the bond market.
Saxinger also wants to know why the financial company that sponsored Mullee appeared to distance itself from him after it emerged that he is alleged to have taken $2.1 million from more than a dozen investors.
“I feel very mad. I feel angry. Because these are seniors, people in their 70s and 80s, that (he) preyed on. I’m probably the youngest person that’s involved,” she said.
Six weeks ago, in response to the allegations, Saskatchewan’s Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) ordered Mullee and his company, Vince Mullee Financial Inc., to cease trading securities.
The FCAA’s securities division said in a news release that it appears Mullee sold non-existent bonds to multiple investors through his company, and then used the money for personal and corporate purposes.
At the time, Mullee was an independent adviser for Calgary-based WealthCo Inc. He did not respond to multiple StarPhoenix requests for comment on the situation.
Saxinger is at least the second person to come forward with concerns about Mullee. Quoting Saxinger’s brother Bryan Hnatiw, CBC News reported last week that the Saskatoon-based adviser allegedly sold her father Ted Hnatiw $250,000 worth of fake bonds.
In an interview, Bryan Hnatiw confirmed the account he gave to the broadcaster. Copies of financial documents show Ted Hnatiw invested more than $250,000 over three years into one of the bonds the FCAA says does not exist.
The documents show that both Saxinger and Hnatiw wrote their cheques to Vince Mullee Financial Inc. — a risky move, according to the FCAA, which urges investors to only make their cheques out to registered securities dealers.
Saxinger said writing the cheques to Mullee’s company seemed strange and caused her to hesitate, but she ultimately wrote them based on her parents’ years of experience dealing with the financial adviser.
Nine months later, WealthCo sent Saxinger’s father a letter saying its contract with Mullee had been terminated, and it was “not responsible for the actions of our Canadian Independent Advisors, or the products and services they provide not associated with WealthCo. Inc.”
The letter, a copy of which was provided to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, did not say why the contract was ended.
Saxinger said she did not receive a similar letter from WealthCo. She then called the securities dealer through which Mullee had apparently invested her $37,000, only to find out “they ’d never heard of me,” she said.
Saxinger and her brother Bryan question why WealthCo should not be responsible for Mullee’s actions, given that he worked out of a WealthCo-branded office in Saskatoon and used the company ’s letterhead.
“For all intents and purposes (Mullee) represented WealthCo,” Hnatiw said.
In an email, WealthCo Chief Operations Officer Sophie Blais said the company learned of “potential irregularities” on June 21 and, four days later after examining the facts, terminated Mullee’s securities license sponsorship and all dealings with him.
Blais said Mullee was an independent broker and worked with multiple organizations.
While those firms are responsible for ensuring compliance with provincial securities law, “compliance cannot be applied to the 'products’ sold to those affected by (Mullee) due to the fact that they are/were non-existent,” she said.
“All moneys involved in these allegations relate to cheques written directly to Mr. Mullee’s company, Vince Mullee Financial Inc. None of the funds in question were made payable to WealthCo and WealthCo was not involved in any of the transactions in question.”
Hnatiw said there does not appear to be a clear process for resolving the situation.
I feel very mad. I feel angry. Because these are seniors, people in their 70s and 80s that (he) preyed on.
Darlene Saxinger had confidence in Vincent John Mullee because her parents had dealt with him. Now, he’s been ordered to stop trading securities and she fears she has lost the $37,000 she invested through him.