A prominent Canadian businessman and co-founder of Canada’s largest golf club operator has been charged with eight business associates in connection with an alleged criminal organization that defrauded businesses, banks and investors of more than $30 million.
In November 2014, York Regional Police launched an investigation into John Simmonds, 66, of King City, Ont., and A.C. Simmonds and Sons Inc., of which he is the chairman and CEO.
Police and the Ontario Securities Commission said they received several complaints from people who claimed to have been defrauded by Simmonds and his co-accused.
In early 2014, investigators determined the company BLVD Holdings was one of 80 shell companies registered by A.C. Simmonds and Sons Inc. and had begun the process of acquiring a food shipping company in York Region.
A press release from March 2014 showed BLVD Holdings acquired Goudas Food Products and Investments Ltd.
“This gives us a secure foothold in a growth market which is strategically key to our long term success,” Simmonds said in the release.
“Goudas has built a successful operation with reliable brands and good market penetration. We see numerous growth opportunities including Western Canada and the United States.”
The release said Goudas Food grew “to be a leading Canadian supplier of ethnic and international food products” from “modest beginnings” in 1967 and was projected to double its profits in 2016 under the continued management of its founder Spyros (Peter) Goudas.”
“John G. Simmonds began his career with AC Simmonds and Sons, now in its 96th year,” the release stated.
“He co-founded the largest Canadian golf course operation and has successfully grown companies and built effective teams. Simmonds has served as chairman and board director of several public companies.”
But police said that once Simmonds took control of the business, he replaced their system of maintaining financial records to “misrepresent the financial status of the company.”
“Simmonds and his co-accused, systematically submitted fraudulent documentation from one of his many shell companies and business interests to increase the value of the company in order to secure additional money from lenders, creditors and investors,” police said.
“Between April and August 2014, in the five months that Simmonds had taken control of the food company, he funnelled large sums of money out of the existing business to himself, the co-accused and his shell companies to the point of bankrupting the food company. The total fraud value at this time is believed to be over $30 million.”
Simmonds was also charged by the Ontario Provincial Police in July with two counts of fraud over $5,000, two counts of theft over $5,000, two counts of money laundering and two counts of possession of the proceeds of crime.
Police alleged he became involved in an attempt to purchase the Fanotech Group of Companies, which manufacture garbage trucks and waste receptacles in Huntsville and Bracebridge, Ont. between 2009 and 2011.
The Globe and Mail profiled Simmonds in its “Success Stories” section in July 2014, and said his company “acquires profitable businesses for expansion and development.”
A.C. Simmonds and Sons Inc. had also worked in the film industry and the profile said it also had businesses in the international food, oil and gas, mould remediation, waste management, renewable energy and leisure industries with combined revenues projected at more than $500 million.
“Between 1989 and 1993, Mr. Simmonds co-founded and developed the ClubLink public golf enterprise with his brothers. By 1993, he bought out all other family members of A. C. Simmonds & Sons, and he has been chairman and CEO since 2003.”
Simmonds said in the story he had “probably acquired a couple of hundred companies” over the years and that he intended to buy 25 more in the second half of 2014.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else. I don’t excel at golf. Pretty much what I excel at is buying, selling and operating businesses,” Simmonds said.
“This is my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
A full list of the suspects charged are as follows:
- John Simmonds, 66, of King City, Ont.
- Carrie Weiler, 57, of Nobleton, Ont.
- Ian Bradley, 71, of Toronto
- Donald Fenton, 67, of Toronto
- Jason Williams, 44, of Severn, Ont.
- Michael Grieco, 63 of Vaughan, Ont.
- Deborah Simmonds, 56, of Aurora, Ont.
- Tyrone Ganpaul, 67, of Mississauga
- John Mpardakis, 45, of Toronto
The accused face the following charges:
- Fraud Over $5,000
- Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
- Using a forged document
- Fraud by other means
- Laundering the proceeds of crime
- Possession of property obtained by crime
- Fraud affecting the public market
- False prospectus
Anyone with information or anyone who has had business agreements with the companies BLVD Holdings or A.C. Simmonds Group are asked to contact Det. Ken Bardai with the York Regional Police Major Fraud Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6671 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
With files from Leslie Whyte