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Securities commission lifts property freezes, clears West Van promoter

Former West Vancouver council candidate and stock promoter Tara Haddad has been removed from a notice of hearing for market misconduct
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Tara Haddad

A British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) hearing panel has revoked a freeze order and liens on a Whistler condo and West Vancouver waterfront property owned by stock promoter and former municipal council candidate Tara Haddad.

Commissioners Audrey Ho and Judith Downes ruled May 17 it would not be prejudicial to the public interest to lift the freezes after Haddad was removed from a November 2018 notice of hearing that once included dozens of purported consultants – including Haddad, her husband Abeir Haddad and their companies – known as the Bridgemark Group.

Haddad has already applied to redevelop the empty West Vancouver lot on Erwin Drive, which she purchased for $9.2 million in 2016. Meanwhile, her $880,000 condo in Whistler is also now free of orders. The Haddads previously had freezes lifted on two other properties, which no longer show up on land title searches under their names.

On April 28 BCSC executive director Peter Brady issued the notice of discontinuance and removed most of the respondents, leaving just four individuals – including Haddad’s brother and junior stock promoter Anthony Jackson – to face civil charges of insider trading and/or conduct contrary to the public interest.

In an unusual move, Brady stated he reserved the right to reissue hearing notices to those he dropped from the proceedings by May 28. Yet on May 6 he consented to the Haddads’ application to lift the freezes and liens, while noting to the panel of commissioners the couple remains subject to civil proceedings (a class action lawsuit by investors against the Bridgemark Group) that allege a conspiracy among the Bridgemark Group and the companies members controlled or were closely associated to.

However, “none of the previous Commission decisions involved maintaining freeze orders for common law claims in the absence of allegations or claims under the [B.C. Securities Act]” noted the panel in its three-page ruling.

Haddad is a licensed realtor and chartered professional accountant who also operates a math academy in West Vancouver. She ran unsuccessfully for West Vancouver council in 2016. Thereafter she followed in her brother’s footsteps, directing two shell companies he formerly promoted.

Haddad’s most active promotion is Modern Meat, a line of pea-protein meat alternative products. Haddad took the company public in a reverse takeover of Navis Resources, a company run by Jackson.

Company records show Modern Meat has been heavily promoted online. Since its June 2020 launch, the company has issued 49 press releases. Among its first moves was to retain two promotional firms for $650,000 – Awareness Consulting Network LLC for US$100,000 and Green Times Consulting Ltd. for 325,000 Euros.

Modern Meat, which operates a small kitchen, has posted gross sales profits of $66,849 over the six months to Feb. 28 of this year and accumulated close to $2.1 million in operating losses.

The stock trades for $1.74, giving it a market cap of $48.7 million, factoring in its 28.3 million shares.

Eleven and a half million of those shares originated from a split of Navis shares, at $0.15 per share, and most were held by several Bridgemark Group members. Since launching, the stock has risen to as much as $4.31 and millions of shares have traded on the retail market.

Last year, Haddad earned $125,000 for her efforts and currently holds 667,500 $0.05 options.

Haddad has also directed three other companies: Kootenay Zinc Corp. (replacing Jackson in June 2019), Sennen Potash Corp. and Remington Resources. None has a revenue stream.

In Modern Meat public filings she touts “over 20 years of experience building successful companies with operational financial growth by providing financial expertise and knowledge.”

In January, Haddad left her position at Remington Resources, a shell company, where she earned $125,000 in 2020. She joined the company in June 2017 and raised $862,000 in a January 2018 private placement. At the end of last year the company had assets of $13,032. Audited financial statements show the company spent $283,000 in 2018 and $583,000 in 2017 in consulting fees. BridgeMark Financial Corp.’s Jackson was paid $239,000 for accounting services. The highest consulting fees paid out in one year ($187,000 in 2017) went to former director Brent Hahn, a director for Sennen Potash, which was registered at BridgeMark’s address. The company of BCSC hearing respondent Cam Paddock was paid $90,300. Under Haddad, Remington’s deficit rose $1.2 million in just over a year. A company with no revenue or property, it now trades at $0.025 cents per share.

Haddad left Sennen Potash in May 2020 with an annual salary of $80,000. Sennen had $61,857 in total assets in January 2020, down from $458,784 in January 2019, when the company spent $608,100 on consulting fees.

The commission had been investigating Haddad and other purported consultants for conduct abusive to the capital markets. The original notice of hearing alleged an illegal share distribution and “cash swap” scheme involving 11 CSE-listed companies that issued extraordinarily large, six-figure consulting contracts to share-buying consultants and their associates. Some companies have already admitted the consultants did no meaningful work, if any at all, after buying up cheap stock then selling it to retail investors. A hearing for Jackson and other supposed architects of the alleged scheme has not been scheduled.

According to BCSC spokesperson Brian Kladko, any former respondents who are recalled to the hearing will be notified privately and a new notice would be posted.

 

gwood@glaciermedia.ca