Life ban for mutual fund salesman Paul Yoannou convicted in $6.6M fraud

TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission has banned former mutual fund salesman Paul Yoannou from the financial industry for life, citing his conviction and sentencing last year in a multimillion-dollar fraud case.

Yoannou, a former salesman at Investor Group Financial Services in Toronto, was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to make restitution of $6.6 million in February 2013 after pleading guilty to 15 counts of fraud over $5,000.

The offences committed by Yoannou, who had been employed by Investors Group as a financial consultant for 14 years, occurred between 2004 and 2006.

In a statement issued Friday, the OSC said Yoannou approached 30 of his clients with three new investment strategies that he misrepresented as being Investors Group certified.

The clients, having dealt with Yoannou for many years, authorized transfers from their accounts or borrowed money to invest with Yoannou, making cheques out to him personally at his request.

According to evidence submitted in court, many of the victims were elderly persons who had worked all their lives to put away money for their retirement or as an inheritance for their children.

The funds were put in Yoannou’s personal accounts and appeared to have been used for various purposes, including to pay back other investors.

It also appeared that “Yoannou was gambling heavily during the time that he was taking money from his clients,” the OSC said.

“It is clear, based on the court decision and the admitted facts, that the respondent should not be permitted to participate in the future in Ontario capital markets,” the OSC said, adding that Yoannou, among other things, is permanently barred from acquiring or trading securities or from becoming an officer or director of any issuer.