Retail Investors Need a Voice in Bridging Finance Case, Lawyers Argue

Retail Investors Need a Voice in Bridging Finance Case, Lawyers Argue

“This proceeding is rolling on without meaningful input from the retail investors, the stakeholders, who it is now clear, are most at risk and who as a practical matter are not well able to protect themselves,” a submission from WFK said. But WFK argued that the advisory committees proposed by PwC — which would include advisors and institutional investors — don’t have a clear role and wouldn’t represent the interests of ordinary investors.

WFK suggested that appointing committees that include investment advisors could undermine retail investors’ confidence in the process. At the hearing, lawyers for PwC defended the proposed appointment of the advisory committees, and made a number of requests, including that PwC be allowed to make certain payments and that the limitation period on potential civil claims against BFI be paused.

“It is particularly important in high profile legal proceedings such as this, that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,” WFK said. “The retail investors’ faith in this process and their willingness to accept any outcome resulting from this process, is dependent on their belief that the process is fair.” PwC’s lawyers also indicated that the financial condition of the BFI funds remains uncertain, given some unexplained transactions they described as “very troubling.”

WFK said this is necessary to ensure the appearance of justice in BFI’s receivership process. “It is logical that these recent events would cause retail investors to wonder about the quality of the advice they received to invest in the Bridging funds, and not to see the investment advisors as well positioned to represent their interests,” WFK said in its filing. “The retail investors require representation by counsel whose sole focus and loyalty is to them.”

PwC’s priority is to recover as much money as possible for all investors, the lawyers said — a process that could include selling portfolio assets, which would be subject to court approval. While one of the central figures in BFI’s dealings, Sean McCoshan, has been “too ill” to answer PwC’s questions about these transactions, medical proof of his condition has not been provided, lawyers for PwC said.

Source Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice indicated that he intends to rule on the issues covered at Wednesday’s hearing in the next few days — hopefully by Friday, possibly by Monday.

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