Rocco Di Stefano pleads guilty to 46 counts
Decisions and Freeze and cease trade orders Securities
Montréal – In a decision handed down on October 5, 2009 in the Court of Québec (Criminal and Penal Division), district of Montréal, Judge Gilles Garneau accepted a guilty plea by Rocco Di Stefano, a former insurance representative and mutual funds dealer.
Rocco Di Stefano pleaded guilty to 46 counts brought against him by the Autorité des marchés financiers (the "AMF") in February 2008, including 23 counts for offering debt securities varying from $10,000 to $100,000 to his clients in connection with Zema Finances inc., Vision Management Services Ltd. and Eurovision Financial Services Ltd., and 23 counts for acting as a dealer without being registered as such with the regulatory authority.
At sentencing hearings scheduled for November 2, 2009, the AMF will seek fines totalling $414,000, an amount three times higher than the minimum fines set by the Securities Act.
The Bureau de décision et de révision en valeurs mobilières (BDRVM) ordered Rocco Di Stefano to cease any activity in respect of a transaction in securities and acting as a securities adviser on November 30, 2007. In its decision, the BDRVM expressed concern about the fact that Mr. Di Stefano used his reputation as a former pastor to solicit investors, make illegal distributions and act illegally as a securities dealer.
Two additional penal proceedings were launched against Rocco Di Stefano by the AMF in March 2009 for similar violations in connection with Zema Finances inc. and Sodexin. The AMF is seeking fines totalling $441,000 in these proceedings.
This case should remind consumers of the importance of checking whether a person who proposes investment products has the necessary authorizations to do so, even when such person is a friend, acquaintance or relative. According to a recent survey by the Canadian Securities Administrators, Quebeckers are more likely to be approached with fraud schemes by persons with whom they have developed a sense of trust. In fact, affinity fraud is one of the most common types of fraud that consumers should be aware of.
The Autorité des marchés financiers (the "AMF") is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec's financial sector.
— 30 —
Sylvain Théberge: (514) 940-2176
Québec City: 418-525-0337