BUSINESS

Manor, key figure in Portus scandal, to pay $8.8M - amount he spent on diamonds

08/27/2012 05:45 EDT | Updated 10/27/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Ontario securities regulators have ordered Boaz Manor, a key figure in the multimillion-dollar Portus financial scandal, to pay $8.8 million — the amount he spent on diamonds after he left Canada while his investment group was under investigation.

The settlement approved Monday by the Ontario Securities Commission marks the culmination of a probe that began in late 2004, when the activities of Portus and Manor came under the scrutiny of the commission.

"After leaving Canada, Manor purchased approximately $8.8 million in diamonds using companies in Hong Kong between June 10, 2005 and July 8, 2005," the agreed statement of fact reads.

"These diamonds were purchased using investor funds."

The diamonds, the statement said, were delivered to Hong Kong and picked up by Manor's sister-in-law.

The $8.8 million will be distributed to security holders of Portus or as otherwise directed by the OSC.

The commission order issued Monday also bans Manor for life from most capital markets activity, save for his RRSP.

In the agreed statement of fact, Manor admitted to wrongdoing and that he broke securities laws during his involvement in the complicated investment scheme that collapsed in 2005.

"This has been a very stressful time for Mr. Manor and he is relieved to put all of this behind him and move on with his life," his lawyer Robin Mckechney said in an email Monday.

"The single most important factor coming out of this for Mr. Manor is that investors received virtually all of their money back. This is particularly noteworthy given that the investments matured during the significant economic downturn in 2008 and 2009."

The Toronto-based investment group collapsed after securities regulators in several provinces investigated and closed Portus Alternative Asset Management, a major company within the group.

At the time, Portus Alternative Asset Management had $800 million under management and 26,000 clients across Canada — mostly in Ontario.

Much of the money was later recovered, or in investments that could be recovered, but some of the funds collected from investors appeared to have been diverted.

Manor returned to his native Israel soon after the crackdown and remained out of Canada for years as authorities and a court-appointed receiver attempted to unravel the group's complex business dealings.

He and Michael Mendelson, another key figure in the group, were later criminally charged with fraud, money laundering and possession of property of crime.

Manor, who was still out of the country when the RCMP announced the charges in September 2007, was also charged with obstruction of justice. He returned to Canada two months later and was released on bail.

Mendelson pleaded guilty to one count of fraud in November 2007 and received a two-year sentence.

Manor later pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of disobeying a court order. He was sentenced in May 2011 to four years for the fraud and two years for disobeying a court order.

Mendelson was president of the affiliated Portus Asset Management, and also considered a "directing mind'' of the business.

Also on Monday, the OSC approved settlements with two lesser figures in the Portus saga — Michael Labanowich and John Ogg.