An investor syndicate linked to advertisements for a “sea view apartment development” at the industrial-zoned Molson Brewery site in Vancouver says it did not approve the online ads.
Responding to questions from The Province, Sun Commercial Real Estate had its lawyer issue a statement saying it voluntarily met with B.C. Securities Commission representatives “to demonstrate that it complies with all laws governing its activities.”
As The Province reported, an English translation of ads attributed to Sun Commercial on the Chinese language website vansky.com stated “Sun Commercial real estate brewery project recruit shareholders, 330,000 feet of great sea view apartment development.”
Under the “zero risk, high return” plan advertised, small investors were required to contribute $150,000.
The industrial-zoned site was sold to a mystery buyer late last year, and both regional and city planners have stated they do not want condo towers built at the site.
In a statement Friday, Sun Commercial’s lawyer James Carpick stated that a woman posted the ads attributed to Sun Commercial on vansky.com “purporting to solicit investors, but she did this without Suncom’s knowledge or approval ... those advertisements were not statements made, authorized or approved by Suncom. Suncom will take steps to address this misconduct by that individual.”
On its website last year, Sun Commercial described itself as a crowdfunding syndicate helping clients “with a relatively small amount of capital” gain access to some of the largest real estate investment projects in Vancouver. The firm’s website said it aimed to complete more than $400 million in land purchases in 2015, after completing nine property deals worth $200 million in 2014.
Crowdfunding is a form of online investor recruitment that has been regulated in B.C. since May 2015.
On an updated 2016 website, Sun Commercial lists its CEO as Davidson Guo. Davidson Guo, formerly known as De Xue Guo, is the director of the company SUNCROWDFUNDING HOLDINGS LTD. The company’s mailing address, in corporate documents researched by The Province in 2015, is listed as a Richmond mansion called the Ivy Manor. Property documents show that investor Kevin Sun, then known as Hongwei Sun, bought the $9.5-million home in 2009.
In its legal statement Friday, Sun Commercial states: “Recent media reports appear to suggest that Sun Commercial Real Estate Ltd. has been ‘crowdfunding’ to raise funds from investors and may have breached securities laws in material ways. These suggestions are false.”
Earlier this week spokesman Richard Gilhooley confirmed the BCSC was examining online information obtained by The Province and attributed to Sun Commercial.
“In terms of how we are using the information (reported) I’m afraid I can’t comment on that,” Gilhooley told The Province Thursday. “I can’t confirm or deny whether we are investigating.”
Sun Commercial's legal letter further states that it "has not been advised that the Commission takes any issue with any business activity it has undertaken."
On Friday, after reading Sun Commercial's legal letter, BCSC spokesman Gilhooley told The Province, "all I can say is we are continuing to review the situation involving Sun Commercial and Luxmore Crowdfunding (an unrelated Vancouver company)."
In one deal advertised online on Sun Commercial’s 2015 website, Sun Commercial reported buying a Cambie property across from Oakridge for $19 million in July 2013 and selling it for $26 million in October 2013, after holding it for just three months. Kevin Sun is director of Qiji, one of the companies connected to the deal in legal documents.
Another Sun Commercial project researched by The Province, a Metrotown land assembly, involves investors including Julia Lau, a former Vancouver realtor, and Mailin Chen, a major buyer of Vancouver residential real estate who made his fortune rapidly in Nanjing’s construction and development market.
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