Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Making of Myths and the Stuff of Legends

“One part fact, two parts legend, three parts snowball…” - Maniac Magee

It has been surprising to read one Montreal newspaper over 2011, and witness the creation of myth through the constant repetition of a very small amount of information.

According to the Gazette, Phil Jarman is well worth writing up in a John Le Carre novel. Although “just” a helicopter pilot, he mingles with dignitaries, "advises" Canadians on financial planning, manages a “sophisticated” corporate empire and is “linked” to (whatever that verb means) tax fighters, money-laundering dictators and attempted murder plots.  Oh, and apparently he owns a helicopter rental agency, which, surprisingly, cannot be found.

As for Voyageur, well – even more shocking! According to the Gazette, this private member’s only investors club has managed to raise “approximately $65 million” through a “multi-level marketing scheme” promoted through a “sophisticated” web site. It has “flogged” funds, “shifted” money and then “refused” to pay it back. And – it’s “controlled” by Phil Jarman and his family, who have now “grabbed” some “gold claims”.

Before any reporters dream of selling movie rights, let’s just set the record straight:

Phil Jarman is a 65-year-old who has lived in Atenas, Costa Rica for the last 12 years. He wakes up every morning at 5am to feed chickens and goats. He holds patents on logging technology and is currently re-engineering a single-passenger home-built helicopter for surveillance use in developing countries like Costa Rica. He does all of this from a small garage with no air conditioning.

He writes newsletters and speaks at member conferences for Voyageur Foundation, his favorite topic being the importance of each citizen achieving financial sovereignty, given the current debt load of public institutions and uncertain future of pensions.

Since April 2010, all of that has taken a back seat to the only Voyageur initiative at present. Now Philip chairs a team of 10 members who work on the recovery effort following Eiger’s default. Like many members, Phil Jarman has his own loan contract at risk.

And yes, it’s true, each November he plays at the local Remembrance Day Service. While he has a bugle his great uncle recovered from Vimy Ridge, he doesn’t play it any more. “Last Post” sounds better when he plays his trumpet instead.

As for the legend-making surrounding Voyageur:

Voyageur Foundation does not raise capital and is not an investment company. Readers might be surprised to know it’s a charitable foundation by charter, and has no bank account! Its purpose is to encourage members to learn more about their personal finances, and to provide support to members in their international investments.

With respect to Merendon Mining, Voyageur has guided the legal process for members, from the first declaration of default when Eiger failed to make promised payments in April 2010, to the present date.

This effort involves many more members  than the Jarman family, and it is due to the collective experience of business people, entrepreneurs, lawyers and resource managers that Voyageur has achieved a measure of success in recovering assets in Ecuador to date. There is still much work to do, to ensure the capital of members is protected and recovered.

Voyageur’s purpose in supporting the recovery efforts is to ensure all members receive back at a minimum the capital loaned to Eiger Capital Corp., which is approximately $25 million invested over the last 10 years.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great headline, totally false, but great!

It's just a small detail at the start of the news story, right? Not even 20 words, so maybe one shouldn't complain. But for integrity's sake, someone has to correct the record. So here goes:

Please, Gazette editors: issue a retraction for your latest story about Voyageur Foundation. The headline - which we fear might be the only part some readers read - is false.

Your headline:

Lawyer Richard DeVries was the intended target in a murder-for-hire plot by an angry investor of the Voyageur Foundation.

For the record:

- Mr.  Djokich is not a member of Voyageur Foundation.
- He has never had any dealings with Voyageur Foundation.
- Voyageur Foundation has no connection with any murder-for-hire plot!
- Voyageur Foundation does not have investors.
- Voyageur Foundation is an investor's club - not an investment.

The only link between Mr. Djokich and Voyageur Foundation is the fact that a Gazette reporter has decided to place the two names in the same "news" story.

This is not the first time the Gazette has created a connection to make a great, but false, headline. Earlier this year, the same reporter claimed a "link" between Voyageur Foundation and the ex president of Nicaragua, a connection that is not only untrue, but it is also damaging. The Gazette has yet to publish a correction to this story.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Notwithstanding an honorable mention for a journalism award for investigative reporting, a Gazette reporter continues to publish incorrect information.

The undisputed facts are:

1.  No member of Voyageur has ever invested a single penny in the Foundation.
2.  Voyageur Foundation has never invested any funds in Stoneset.
3.  Voyageur is not, nor has it ever been, a participant in any alleged Ponzi scheme.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stronger Together

Thanks to the Voyageur members who have pledged their Security for Cost Deposits, recovery efforts are underway in Ecuador and Honduras.
We are now applying our win in Belize and are moving forward, with the hope that assets will be recovered and all member investment expectations will be realized.
We believe the former management of Merendon is counting on all authorities and creditors to give up on the arduous effort to collect in the countries where Merendon formerly operated. We will not give up as "we are stronger together."
Thanks to the dedicated effort of this investors club and its members thus far, we have the potential of making this recovery effort a success.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thanks for correcting the record

It is noted that The Gazette has corrected the error in its headline of Aug. 18th, which stated Voyageur Foundation was soliciting through its web site.

Due to an editing error, an article published on Aug. 18 contained an incorrect website address for Voyageur, a Costa Rica-based investment foundation. The new website referred to in the article is https: //voyageurlearninggroup.com. As well, the headline on the article incorrectly said the foundation is soliciting Quebecers on the site; the article said a visitor to the password-protected site was unable to determine whether it was being used to sell investments.
The Gazette regrets the errors.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
As The Gazette updates the record, two other corrections could be added to the list, the first regarding the newspaper's description of Voyageur as a "banned foundation." Banned by whom, and for what?

To be strictly accurate, the foundation is banned from selling securities, an activity that Voyageur Foundation states that it does not do.  Voyageur Foundation is an investors club, and represents the interests of its members in any dealings with investment companies. It does not sell investments, nor represent investment companies. 

We hope this will become clear as the AMF completes its review of Voyageur Foundation.

Secondly, the newspaper could correct its statement that the AMF "is conducting an investigation into the foundation's activities to determine whether it is a Ponzi scheme." The cease-trade order against Voyageur Foundation, its founder and three of its members, does not state there is an investigation of Voyageur to determine if it is a Ponzi scheme. The Gazette may need to review its sources and document further when it alleges that Voyageur Foundation is being investigated as a Ponzi.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Voyageur Web Informs and Supports Members

Voyageur Foundation is in the Montreal news again, this time because of an international web site it has set up to inform members affected by the ongoing default of Eiger Capital Corp, the former majority owner of Merendon Mining Ltd. Corp.

The Montreal Gazette admits that it isn't sure whether the site is being use to sell investments or not, because apparently no one has actually entered the password-protected site to read the content. But this didn't stop the newspaper from running the Aug. 18th headline: "Banned foundation 'still soliciting Quebecers' through new website."

Side note to Gazette Editor: please read the email from AMF spokesperson Caty Beausejour again. She is quoted in your newspaper as writing: "If it appears that Voyageur Foundation .....[is] still soliciting Quebecers..."  
In fact, she uses that important "if" word several times in the quotes recorded by your reporter, "if" being a conditional statement, not a declared accusation.

So the question is - is Voyageur Foundation selling investments through its web site?

The answer is no: Voyageur Foundation is not selling investments through its web site. 

To clear up that point of doubt and for the public record, Voyageur Foundation has a short statement concerning its web site:

"Voyageur Foundation’s private web site is strictly to inform and support its members. The information it contains is not for solicitation or promotion of investments."

Friday, July 15, 2011

It always seems impossible until it's done

If you want to be a success at everything, predict failure. Tell yourself, “this will never work,” and most likely, you will be 100% right.

When Eiger Capital Corp. first defaulted, and then denied its default and mounted a defense based on court process in Belize, it was tempting to throw in the towel. A recovery effort against a company with holdings in different jurisdictions is not simple or easy.

In this case, Voyageur members have taken to heart a saying made famous by Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Voyageur has maintained constant communication with the membership through this whole process. Its only goal is the recovery of assets. Actions are underway to apply the judgment won in May in jurisdictions where Merendon has operated in the past.  Giving up is not an option.  

Article “Judgment payout unlikely” by Alison Macgregor, The Montreal Gazette, July 8, 2011

Alison Macgregor quotes Florida lawyer Ivan Reich as saying: “I think the money is gone, to be honest with you. I don’t know where the other assets are.” 

Here are the facts - We respect the view of Mr. Reich, but we have a different opinion. We believe that further actions towards recovery are worthwhile, at least in the jurisdictions where Merendon did business.

Alison Macgregor also quotes Ivan Reich as saying: “You can get a judgment in another country but if they don’t have assets there, what do you do with it?” 

Here are the facts - We agree, and that is why we wonder at the value of these judgments in the US and Canada. There are no assets of Merendon Mining in either country.

Alison Macgregor wrote - "Voyageur claims it is unable to return $65 million invested by close to 1,000 Canadian members, mostly from Quebec and Alberta, in a clutch of offshore funds."
Here are the facts - Voyageur members have not invested $65 million. That being said, regardless of the amount, Voyageur is committed to recovery.

Alison Macgregor wrote - "The Jarmans, the family that controls Voyageur, have trumpeted the May 24 Belize court ruling as a major step forward in their purported attempts to recover the missing investments."

Here is a question - Is it “trumpeting” to privately inform concerned members about the court judgment? Voyageur went public with the fact that it had won a judgment, only after this reporter stated she could find no evidence of any ruling.

Alison Macgregor wrote - "Although the ruling appears to be a victory, of sorts, it is only one of a growing list of court rulings against Sorenson and his assets, which have been frozen by U.S. and Canadian court orders."

Here are the facts - The May 24th judgment is the first ruling in a jurisdiction where Merendon actually has assets.

Alison Macgregor also quotes Ivan Reich as saying: “Why would Gary Sorenson turn money over to these people instead of anybody else?” ... “Why not to the Alberta Securities Commission to get him off the hook? ... Why wouldn’t he turn it over to the SEC in the U.S.?” 

Here are the facts - The judgment in Belize did not involve Gary Sorenson “turning over money”. The court case was hard-fought, taking over 12 months and requiring more than $120,000 in legal fees. The court case was the result of a standard legal procedure to get a debt recognized in the proper jurisdiction, when the debtor refuses to acknowledge the debt owing.

Alison Macgregor wrote - "He said (Ivan Reich) the Jarmans would have trouble enforcing the ruling in the U.S. or Canada, where courts have given control of the assets there to Reich and Quilling."

Here are the facts - He is right! But, there are no assets in Canada or the US as far as we know, which is why we haven't wasted money trying to litigate in either of these countries.

Alison Macgregor wrote - "He (Ivan Reich) was equally skeptical of the Jarmans’ purported plan to take control of Merendon’s operations in Ecuador: “To be quite honest with you, unless they’ve got the equivalent of the mob or the ability to bribe public officials down there, I don’t really see a whole lot going on.” - Ivan Reich

Here are the facts - Ecuador has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1996. Business is not conducted with the help of the mob, and one doesn’t take over companies through bribery. The “Superintendencia de Companias” in this country recognizes registered contracts and rightful legal claim.