13th June 2024

Better business. Better community

Business Industry and Financial

B.C. seniors lose $329K to licensed insurance broker

Financial service regulators found insurance broker and mutual fund dealer Alvinder Singh Gill misappropriated over $329,000 of retirement savings from an elderly Langley couple.

A Surrey man licensed to sell insurance and investment products solicited and accepted nearly $330,000 from a retired Langley couple only to deceptively misappropriate the funds for himself, including the purchase of real estate, according to a recent ruling from the Mutual Fund Dealers Association and a now settled civil court claim.

Donald Lapierre and Suzanne Lapierre gave their first chunk of retirement savings to Alvinder Singh Gill on March 1, 2010, after Gill offered to manage their nest egg upon being introduced to the couple by a mutual friend.

At the time, Gill worked in Abbotsford as a licensed insurance broker on behalf of The Canada Life Assurance Company; he had, however, relinquished his seven-year stint as a mutual fund dealer in 2008. Although unlicensed to handle investments, Gill was the sole principal of Greynote Group Financial Services, where he would direct the Lapierres to put their money.

Gill sold the Lapierres on a “no risk” investment with annual returns of up to seven per cent interest, with Canada Life, according to the MFDA hearing notice filed Nov. 11, 2022.

By March 2016 Gill re-registered as a mutual fund dealer with Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc. and until September 2019, the Lapierres would issue 18 cheques to Greynote or Gill, personally, totalling $329,625.

Through part of this time Gill would present the Lapierres with account statements that “were fictitious, contained information that was false or misleading, and misrepresented” the money being in a Canada Life account, the notice stated.

Matters began to unravel just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, when the Lapierres asked for their money to be withdrawn.

Following months of excuses, Gill eventually told the couple that he had invested their monies into “a few riskier investments” which had declined in value to “25 cents on the dollar,” the notice stated.

In August 2020, the couple complained to Canada Life, only to find out they had no account with the firm. The couple then complained to the MFDA, which launched an investigation.

Among the proven allegations, following a Sept. 22 hearing, Gill “misappropriated or failed to account for monies,” made “false statements and provided fictitious documents,” engaged in “undisclosed outside activity” (via Sun Life) and “failed to cooperate” with the regulator’s investigation.

“The Hearing Panel found that the allegations set out in the Notice of Hearing had been established,” noted an Oct. 19 MFDA statement issued by the newly launched Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO), which has absorbed prior, ongoing MFDA hearings.

What did Gill do with the seniors’ money?

In a civil court claim filed by the Lapierres in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Sep. 25, 2021, the Lapierres alleged Gill used their money to buy real estate.

The claim states Gill acquired legal title of a residence on May 27, 2014, amid his solicitations of the Lapierres. At the time, the couple had given him $185,000.

“Gill used the funds from the Plaitiffs to pay the down-payment on the Gill Residence,” and “additionally, Gill continued to use money provided by the Plaintiffs to pay off the mortgages on the Gill Residence.”

Furthermore, the claim states, “Gill also used the funds advanced from the Plaintiffs to purchase other personal property.”

As well, the Lapierres alleged how Gill initially would not allow them to see any of purported Canada Life documents until March 2016, when he decided to provide false ones periodically.

When Gill visited the couple’s home on Aug. 26, 2020 to inform them that he had no bank draft for them, as previously promised, the Lapierres called Langley RCMP after Gill refused to leave their home.

Donald was age 77 and Suzanne was age 73 at the time of the claim.

The lawsuit reached a consent order on June 9, 2021, signed by Gill and the couple’s lawyer Patrick Sullivan for a judgment of $450,000.

It’s unclear if the settlement has been paid. Glacier Media was unable to reach Sullivan nor Gill via a Facebook page under his name and professional title. Property records indicate an Alvinder Gill owns one property in Surrey. The Lapierre claim states Gill resides at a townhouse, in the Newton neighbourhood, valued at $838,000.

Gill has a disciplinary hearing on Nov. 3 with CIRO where he faces the prospect of a civil fine up to $5 million and up to lifetime suspension from the securities industry.

The Insurance Council of BC notes Gill is now unlicensed. The council conducted a hearing on Oct. 19 wherein it alleged much of what the MFDA determined, describing it as “conduct in the nature of theft or fraud.”

The council states he could be fined up to a maximum of $10,000.

The proceedings against Gill have been civil and administrative, not criminal. A CIRO spokesperson told Glacier Media the matter has been referred to police. 

Neither Abbotsford Police Department nor Langley RCMP responded to inquiries in time for publication. 

As of 2019, fraud represented 12 per cent of the Crime Severity Index, which is used to measure crime across Canadian communities. Ten years earlier, in 2009, fraud represented just 6.5 per cent of the index, according to Statistics Canada.

And while fraud is up significantly in Canada, total court decisions for fraud cases have trended downward since 2009. Since then there have been 12,500 court decisions, on average, with under 12,000 such decisions in 2018 and 2019.