Former investment dealer pleads guilty (updated)

A disgraced investment advisor who defrauded local clients of millions pleaded guilty Wednesday to not co-operating with a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee.

Ronald Barker, 53, was charged with offences under federal bankruptcy laws. He was handed a six-month conditional sentence with three months of house arrest, and told to perform 30 hours of community service work.

Federal Crown prosecutor Gary Sair outlined for the court how Barker came to bankruptcy in the first place.

In 2005, Barker was sanctioned by the B.C. Securities Commission, banned from trading and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine stemming from how he misled Kamloops investors.

Barker convinced numerous people to invest in his company Double Eagle, even as the business was failing. In one instance, he convinced an investor in her 60s to invest $80,000 in his venture, even when he knew his company could not be saved.

Investors lost more than $1.7 million.

After the BCSC hearing, Barker owed the BCSC, CIBC and other creditors more than $800,000, Sair told the court. The group went to court and sought to put Barker into bankruptcy, in order to have a trustee oversee his financial affairs.

A judge agreed. Terms of the order required Barker to co-operate with the trustee, undergo counselling, meet with creditors and regularly turn over his financial records.

Barker, however, quickly showed himself to be an unwilling bankrupt, the judge heard.

"The trustee was frustrated because Mr. Barker was not cooperating," said Sair.

In October 2006, Barker was brought back to court and cited with contempt. Despite that, his recalcitrance continued. He refused to answer questions posed to him during a required examination. He wouldn't tell the trustee where he lived, nor did he turn over his records every month as ordered.

Sair said there were questions raised about investments Barker may have had in some Kamloops nightclubs and payouts on those investments he might have received. Those questions remain unanswered still today.

The trustee also learned about a $15,000 payment Barker had received from an insurance company after a car accident. He didn't disclose the payment to the trustee as he should have done.

The RCMP was eventually called to investigate, Sair said, leading to the charges.

Sair noted Barker's failures did not cause anyone to lose money, but his creditors were rightly upset about his failure to co-operate with the trustee as they continue to work to recover what they can.

Defence lawyer Rob Bruneau said his client is co-operating fully with the trustee today and provides whatever information the trustee needs.

Barker works part-time now driving school bus on a relief basis, making $200 and $700 a month.

Judge Stephen Harrison asked why Barker is not working full time. Bruneau said the man has had a hard time recovering from the stress of his company's failure and the ensuing troubles.

The judge imposed the six-month sentence suggested by the lawyers, telling the man the penalty does not relieve him of the need to comply with the trustee's instructions and requests.

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