Derrick Snowdy is probably as close to a celebrity as Canada’s private investigator community has. Starting in 2010, Snowdy burst into view as a prime mover in the political controversy colloquially known as “the busty hookers scandal.”
Snowdy proved to be a quick study at capturing an audience’s attention, ever ready to regale listeners with some of the inside stories from his investigations. So when Catalyst Capital founder Newton Glassman brought a stemwinder of a defamation litigation in 2017 against a host of hedge fund managers and journalists, it was not surprising to see Snowdy involved. (Foundation for Financial Journalism readers will recall our two 2018 investigations that looked into the quality of disclosures at Callidus Capital and Catalyst Capital, the two investment vehicles Glassman controlled. In July 2019 Catalyst amended the initial defamation claim to add Bruce Livesey, the article’s co-author, as a defendant.)
After all, given the numerous well-heeled defendants — and their lawyers, many sporting big litigation budgets — the prospects for an investigator with a knack for digging into corporate fraud seemed attractive.
If questions about the integrity of Wirecard AG’s accounting in its crucial Asian operations are ever to be resolved, Singapore regulators will need to step back and take a long, hard look at James Henry O’Sullivan’s relationship to the Aschheim, Germany–based company. Prosecutors at Singapore’s Consumer Affairs Department have been investigating Wirecard’s fast-growing Asian division, claiming in a March 8 filing that employees in its Singapore office orchestrated a complex, multiyear scheme to inflate the company’s revenue.
Few companies can explain their meteoric growth as alluringly as Wirecard AG. In one preferred narrative, Wirecard presents as Europe’s leading financial technology innovator, a globe-spanning developer of white label code and applications that remove the friction from electronic payments. And in another, it’s a nimble bank, steadily generating low-risk revenue through the sale of integrated banking and credit-card processing services to businesses, and prepaid credit-cards to consumers.
After the Financial Times published a pair of whistleblower-driven exposés that suggested some of Wirecard’s parabolic growth in the Asia-Pacific region resulted from a purported multiyear revenue inflation scheme, anyone wanting to better understand the German payments company’s situation would do well to “follow the money.”
Things are not going well for Newton Glassman. In April he was the subject of a lengthy exposé that detailed the many ways his direction of Catalyst Capital Group Inc., a Toronto-based private equity fund with $4.3 billion in capital commitments, and its sister company Callidus Capital Corp. should alarm investors and regulators. Plus, Glassman directed the fund’s plunge into a series of costly and reputation-threatening lawsuits against a host of purported enemies.
It was corporate skulduggery at its most audacious. Last September Frank Newbould dined at Scaramouche, a swanky downtown Toronto restaurant, with a businessman who said he would like to hire Newbould as an arbitrator. In reality, this was a ruse to engineer an attempted sting on Newbould, a retired Ontario judge, as the National Post reported.
For eight years, Craig Boyer was a senior executive at Callidus Capital, and by the time he quit in 2016 he was its chief underwriter and vice president. But last year Boyer sued Callidus for CA$100,000 in damages, claiming the company had denied him health and other benefits and seeking the return of his stock options.
If you put together all the chief executive officers from the financial services industry in one room and asked them, “Who looks back on the years 2007 to 2009 with fondness?” it’s a very safe bet that only one hand would be raised. That hand would be on the arm of Gregory Garrabrants. The enterprise he has run since October 2007, BofI Federal Bank in La Jolla, California, is about as unlikely an institution to have prospered in those years as can be imagined.
BofI Federal Bank’s disclosure practices seem baffling at best if the standard it’s judged by is how well it informs investors about developments that could potentially change the risk profile of their capital.