CALGARY - Former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington and an associate have been ordered to pay more than $5 million to settle a securities fraud case in Arizona.
The settlement with the Arizona Corporation Commission ends a year-long investigation into Pocklington, co-accused John McNeil and their affiliated companies — Crystal Pistol Resources LLC, Crystal Pistol Management LLC and Liberty Bell Resources I LLC.
There was to be a hearing this month, but two sides came to a settlement, which was approved by the commission last week, spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder said Monday.
The commission said Pocklington and McNeil told at least 120 investors they had mineral rights to a mine near Quartzite, Ariz., that would begin churning out gold shortly.
The company attracted some investors through unsolicited phone calls. Some were invited to the mine site. Company newsletters touted it as "one of the most lucrative dividends in the mining business" and claimed hedge funds and banks were interested in the project, the commission said.
"The commission found, however, that the estimates of gold resources on the respondents’ website were not supportable with the methods currently available in the industry," it said.
"In settling this matter, the respondents neither admitted nor denied the commission's findings, but agreed to the entry of the consent order."
The commission has ordered Pocklington and McNeil pay $5,149,316 in restitution, plus a $100,000 administrative fee.
A release from Pocklington's company, Liberty Bell Resources, says "the allegations of wrongdoing... have been laid to rest" with the commission's decision.
"We have done nothing wrong," Pocklington said in the release. "We have worked diligently and honestly with all of our investors and have been conscientious in guiding the company through the necessary regulatory frameworks. We are committed to raising capital in accordance with existing rules and regulations."
He added that any errors were "born of inexperience and naivete, not malice or avarice," and were quickly rectified.
"Nowhere in this whole situation did anybody lose any money," said Pocklington spokesman Terry McConnell, adding agreeing to pay the fine is less costly than continuing to fight the allegations.
In 2010, Pocklington received a conditional sentence after pleading guilty to perjury in California for making false statements and oaths in his bankruptcy case.