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Greed: Investment Fraud in Canada and Around the Globe

by Deborah Thompson

In this review of well-known fraud cases from the last two decades, Toronto business writer Deborah Thompson covers a few boiler rooms from which assets were peddled to the unwary; a Winnipeg grain brokerage scandal; the case of Chris Horne and RBC Dominion Securities; and the Daiwa Bank, Sumitomo Corp., and Osler Inc. fake trades cases.

Thompson provides a chronicle of each scam, adding little to what has already been written. She does not deal with the run-of-the-mill, everyday frauds that produce neither convictions nor prosecutions. Nor does she explain how she chose the cases she included.

There are other frauds available for study. The 1980s trust companies affair; the mutual fund mayhem that swirled around Bernie Cornfeld and Investors Overseas Services and, later, Robert Vesco; and the shellgame involving salad oil that wrecked stock brokers in the 1960s are all good examples needing re-examination in light of new ways companies are run and securities traded.

This book lacks focus. Deeper inquiries might have produced some useful commentaries on what’s wrong with Canadian and U.S. bankruptcy law – a vast field of fraud in itself. Thompson could have discussed the control of fraud in the shift from paper money, cheques, stock certificates, and other negotiable instruments to electronic ledgers and virtual money. She could even have discussed the economics of asset control and the costs of surety bonds for those entrusted with other people’s money. She did none of these things.

Thompson ends with a suggestion that Canada might have a national securities regulator. This, however, would not have had an effect on the inside trading and false documentation scandals that are the majority of her cases. Canada already has controls via the cooperative work of its securities regulators. More government is not an answer. Nor is her call for top managers to set good examples. This book may be of interest to those who have not read of the frauds Thompson describes. For those who know the stories from accounts in the business press, Greed does not offer much more.


Reviewer: Andrew Allentuck

Publisher: Viking


Price: $29.99

Page Count: 240 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-670-87028-5

Released: Apr.

Issue Date: 1997-4

Categories: Children and YA Non-fiction, Politics & Current Affairs