I thought it would be a difficult day, but I had no idea of what lay in store. We were having significant problems with a business partner failing to pay their financial obligations in an orderly fashion. We had prepared legal paperwork to address this and our plan was to go their offices, and deal with the issue.
Getting off the elevator, we were met with some unexpected visitors who were already on-site. Namely, the SEC, the FBI in their issue navy-blue jackets, and the IRS.
Ever get a strange and sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that something else might be going on? Like, just maybe? Like, this is just a bad joke, or I ate the wrong thing for breakfast, right?
Perhaps this was a movie-shoot?
I wish it was.
This began a long road of interactions, with the foregoing, culminating in four days of testimony with me being called to serve our country as a witness for the prosecution. The guilty parties (I was not in that list) were eventually jailed – my role was as a witness.
One of the negative outcomes of this was a spin-off difficult time with the securities commission (BCSC) in British Columbia, Canada. It is time to speak on those matters, and like Paul Harvey, it is time to make known the rest of the story.
The section that follows is focused on this notable and difficult event in my life’s story. It is intended for those of you who might be checking me out (Due Diligence, rumors, etc.) or simply that you are curious as to how I deal with life’s difficulties. Regardless of your reason, I am okay with that – this is a public facing internet document. I will begin with a brief fiction story – a parable as it were.
“Don’t step in it!” he called out.
Too late – she stepped in it.
“Yuck! What is it?”
“It’s bear scat,” he explained.
“What’s that – it is so gross!”
“It’s bear poop.”
Almost all of us have done it. We go to a nice park and, sure enough, someone didn’t pick up after their dog and we get rewarded with a smelly shoe sole to clean. We were busy looking at the pond with the koi fish and weren’t watching our steps.
In a beautiful forest with stunning vistas, we step in the fresh bear scat if we aren’t careful. Then, once we do, we keep looking over our shoulder.
Our breathing is shallower.
Adrenaline flows in our veins.
“What’s that sound?”
“What’s behind that bush?”
“Is a grumpy Momma Grizzly Bear close by? I know this isn’t exactly Koala Bear country …”
Fear visits us. Uncertainty visits us. Especially when we don’t have a bear gun along and the path is narrow. The truck is a good mile away through dense forest.
The Internet can be like that – bear scat and dog feces are strewn across it. We live in a world of Fake News, Conspiracy Theories and layer upon layer of so-called “truth.” Tabloids hire lawyers to defend their “professional” journalism. The Rumor Mill of Hollywood and Washington seems to know no end. Viewers are fascinated by the latest crime wave and violent acts. Or financial scam. “Researchers” with the “facts” hide behind the bushes of anonymous internet codenames and cryptic email addresses. Viewers salivate over the latest tasty piece of gossip and declare in their minds and hearts: “I am glad that I am not as bad as that person!”
This is wrong.
It is quite sad what is going on in our society. Justice stands afar off. Evil is exalted and those confronting evil become a prey.
I have some bear scat in the forest and parks of my life – one that I wish to speak to. I wish it wasn’t there – I don’t like its smell and appearance and I doubt you do either. There’s one notable event in my life where a bear and rogue dog wandered into my forest and park. Some scat and poop (not mine!) were left behind.
In life, we can ignore the bear and dog poop. We can remain bothered, frightened, ashamed or anxious by it.
Or we can clean it up and, in the case of a forest, tell others what to watch for.
Let’s dive into the difficult event.
For those of you who are unaware of the event, you are welcome to look on the Internet by looking for me. You are welcome to search for “Reed Grafke BCSC” through your search engine of choice – that will take you quickly to the location of the bear scat and dog feces. Shortly, I will come to a brief statement of facts linked to the results of that web search.
In the life of Jesus, He could have smoked the soldiers and the religious crowd (Pharisees) – Anyone who can calm a storm can also perform some attitude adjustments in a hurry. He had adequate “in” with God the Father to summon twelve legions (thousands) of angels. You don’t want to mess with those dudes.
The religious crowd set Him up – He ended up on a Cross. He was innocent. The False News department of the day – religion gone astray – crawled all over Him.
In the life of Paul, the Apostle, he too quietly endured lashes. In the life of Gandhi, famous for his nonviolent disobedience against oppressive British rule, he inspired movements for civil rights and freedom. Were all these examples as perfect as the Life of Jesus? No – of course not. They too carried their frailties and failings – just like you and me. Yes, each one had allegations made against them.
In each of their lives, a time of setting matters right arose. A time to speak on truth arose – of raising up a defence. At times, we see this in the news with those accused and imprisoned wrongfully by “The System” and False News or testimony. The Innocence Project (www.innocenceproject.org) was created to exonerate and clear the names of wrongfully convicted people (typically using DNA testing).
But the Internet has a way of keeping old news alive, doesn’t it? I don’t recall any central Presidential Pardon database sites that every negative link on an exonerated person is required to point to. Do you?
If you only see the bear scat in the forest, or the dog poop in the park, you have missed the sunset and eye-popping vistas and the swan’s regal gliding in the pond. Focusing on the bear scat – and blaming the forest and park warden – does not solve anything.
To sum up what happened to me, in a nutshell, I was collateral damage in a Ponzi scam.
To minimize further damage to those I had interacted with, I chose what I believed was the best pathway. Yes – it hurt. Lots.
Here are the key points you need to know about if you are concerned about this in any way:
- I have no known issues in the eyes of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). You can search their database if you like at https://www.sec.gov/ . The guilty party (Gregory Setser) was sent to jail in 2007 for fraud for 40 years. Setser died in 2017 (https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/gregory-setser-obituary?pid=187131087 ).
- I did end up with a public Canadian Securities violation in 2007. I did not have adequate financial resources to fight the ruling. I signed off on it. There were several discussions between involved parties. The PDF of the final Settlement Agreement is here:
- The violation of Canadian Securities Law was unintentional and inadvertent. I do not have an authoritative third-party backup document I can point to in defense of this assertion. However, I do have comments on the experience and what I learned.
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” ― George Bernard Shaw
- Trusting the right people is important. I am relational by nature and like to trust people as my default go-to position. I don’t like being naturally suspicious of people. Nonetheless, we live in a world where that default position isn’t always smart. We need to discern the motives of others without being judgmental and censorious.
- Even highly competent and experienced people get taken in by the corporate swirl and scandals. Enron, Arthur Andersen, Lehman Brothers, Freddie Mac, WorldCom and Bernie Madoff come to mind. Notable investors like HSBC, Bank Austria, Royal Dutch Shell (Pension) have had to take their lumps – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_investors_in_Bernard_L._Madoff_Investment_Securities
- Don’t get caught up in the swirl and excitement of what seems like a great investment or opportunity. Do your homework. Carefully. My excitement surrounding the business didn’t help in this case on the Canadian side. This excitement is, in part, a natural part of my personality that enjoys the sales process and emerging opportunities – I like to be optimistic. However, my excitement needed to be built on more digging and asking more tough questions – before telling friends or associates about an opportunity.
- There are people in life who do get it right; they are worth learning from and doing business with. Disillusionment, excessive mistrust and throwing in the towel do not help life move forward.
- Don’t let discouragement or shame reign over one’s life. After a fall, stand up, dust yourself off and move forward. Be courageous enough to talk about one’s failures as well as successes. Most listeners or readers “get it” – they too have had some bumps in life, and honesty and learning are part of life. Show me a man who has made no mistakes and I will show you a liar. Or God incarnate – He alone walked on this earth, in the Person of Jesus, without fault.
- I did several things right. The SEC did not have any stated issues with my work. See points above. Yes, they all looked me over at depth!
- Not all professionals get it right. Even lawyers and other professionals can mess up and provide poor advice – the consequences of which they are sometimes immune to. Yes, that is a sad commentary on our society and it is interesting how that works. There is always some degree of risk no matter how good the people or firm is or appears to be. I have learned to watch their advice and guidance more carefully. As well, there are many good professionals and I am thankful for the work they do to assist society’s endeavors.
- Know my limits. I have learned more about what I don’t know and what I am good at.
- Watchfulness is important. Watch inter-jurisdiction, out of country and overseas matters carefully.
- I am not alone in this. Even the big companies – with many on staff and hired professionals – run into tax avoidance and securities issues and especially so with inter-jurisdiction matters.
- Honor the systems that are in place in the countries we do business in. This has always been my intention and I will continue to do that. That includes securities commissions in non-USA jurisdictions. I endeavor to operate lawfully.
- A person does not have control over the press or what others write. While I believe it would have been useful and helpful for the Security Commission to elaborate on things I did do right and provide additional context for their rulings in their statement of facts, that is not something I have control over. It can be very time, emotionally and financially demanding to address certain things in life. Sometimes, one must cut their losses short, call it a day and move on in life – even when one does not fully agree with what others write or rule upon.
- Bad Events can sow a lot of bad seed into a person’s life. It is amazing how much growth a tiny seed can create in a garden. Beautiful bushes, crops and trees. Thorns and thistles and weeds. This event did create additional spin-off commentary on the Internet that I don’t think is just or appropriate. The conspiracy theorists of this day and age always have a grand old time with bad seeds and they love to water and fertilize those seeds with their gossip mills and their latest “research” and “irrefutable conclusions” and “patterns of scamming”. All one can do is to continue to pursue righteousness, confront with grace and truth when called upon to do so, and move forward in life. Even Jesus was declared to be a demoniac. I cannot expect anything less as a follower of Him. Am I perfect? Of course not! However, I am trying, sincerely, to be the best man I can be and to be a blessing to society and my God.
- External and Authoritative Bodies are Not Always Correct. Not all writing and judgements by folks in authority are just. Policemen have shot innocent people. Lawyers and doctors are much the same as you and me – people capable of error or having an agenda. Those external and authoritative bodies are comprised of fallible people – many of whom are simply trying to make a living and do their best. Others – well, there can be a personal side and agenda. I don’t think we need to go much further than the news and history to validate this point – we all have seen the gyrations of politics and religion gone astray. Hitler’s persecutions were lawful – once he had adjusted the laws to his liking.
- Things are set right in due time. That is the power of the Cross of Christ. In due time, a Resurrection occurs.
I hope this helps somewhat. I truly wish I had an unblemished record on the Internet. But I don’t. I really hope this dialog helps – even in some small way – to communicate that I am a man seeking after God and to work honorably in the marketplace and to touch lives with grace, truth and love.
Thank you so much for taking time to read this. I appreciate it. I close with a notable quote by George Bernard Shaw on how he became a compelling speaker:
“I did it the same way I learned to skate – by doggedly making a fool of myself until I got used to it.”