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Ont. woman hit with $10,000 penalty, 15-year professional bans for role in fraud

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TORONTO - An Ontario woman who operated two companies linked to an international penny stock fraud has been ordered to pay $10,000 and banned for 15 years from being an investment fund manager or promoter.

Andrea McCarthy, who acted as a director and officer for BFM Industries Inc. and Liquid Gold International Inc. when they were used to bilk dozens of foreign investors out of about $445,000 in 2009 and 2010, will also be barred from being an officer or director for any company for 15 years.

She also won't be allowed to buy or trade any securities for the same period, except for her own RRSPs or RESPs for her daughter, under a decision announced Tuesday by the Ontario Securities Commission.

However, OSC commissioner James Carnwath turned down a staff request for stiffer penalties, citing a lack of evidence to support the amount sought as well as McCarthy's co-operation with authorities and her current limited financial means.

OSC staff had sought a $50,000 administrative penalty plus an order for McCarthy to be responsible for paying about $102,225 collected from investors by the two companies and her boyfriend, Sandy Winick, the alleged mastermind.

Winick and his business partner, Gregory Curry, have been also accused by the U.S. Attorney's office of being leaders in fraud schemes involving US$140 million. The alleged pump-and-dump scheme — which was separate from the Ontario scams —allegedly had tens of thousands of victims in dozens of countries including Canada.

The two men were arrested last August in Bangkok by Thai officials working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and currently face charges in the United States.

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