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.

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