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Vancouver 'social justice' developer fined $350K for fraud

Cherie Evangeline White asserted a relationship with the Salvation Army Church to attract investors for an illegal property flipping arrangement and eventual fraudulent use of funds.
A picture of Cherie White from the Kingdom Investments Facebook page

A B.C. Securities Commission tribunal has levied $626,000 of sanctions against a Vancouver woman who once said her main goal as a real estate developer was to “end poverty for families” in the Downtown Eastside only to end up committing fraud.

Cherie Evangeline White and her company Kingdom Investments 2015 Inc. are to repay $276,000 to investors while White herself is now responsible for a $350,000 penalty, according to an April 12 tribunal decision.

A tribunal found White illegally raised close to $1.2 million from 24 investors; White’s investment losses amounted to $776,100, however the $276,000 is said to be the amount White was personally enriched by her actions.

Additionally, White is now barred from trading in or purchasing any securities or derivatives except if done through a registered dealer; White is also barred from promoting, consulting and directing companies in the capital markets.

White did not participate in the tribunal’s sanctions hearing and was previously found to have obstructed justice by refusing to provide the commission with information “reasonably required” by investigators. The tribunal found White was also evasive toward investors, having promised them for years that she would return the funds.

But White’s victims did show up to the hearings, the tribunal noted in its decision: “Many of the investors who testified at the liability hearing in this matter showed compelling signs of significant stress and emotional harm as a result of their interactions with” White.

It was between August 2016 and October 2019 when Kingdom distributed securities to the 24 investors without required protocols and investor safeguards.

The tribunal heard from victims that White “attracted investors by projecting shared spiritual values and by carefully building trust through representations about her family’s alignment with the Salvation Army Church and common dreams and aspirations, and through her calculated use of faith-related institutional logos on investment-related materials.”

White’s pitch was to flip renovated properties for a good cause: “Investors were told their investments would help house people who faced barriers to housing, including those experiencing homelessness and addiction, through a scheme of purchasing, improving and then reselling residential properties at a profit,” the tribunal stated.

But White went on to use some funds for personal endeavours and the tribunal characterized her actions as being “consistent with a Ponzi scheme.”

White did admit to investors she used money to repay investors with funds from earlier investors: “It was at the beginning of my career when I didn’t know that you weren’t allowed to do that,” she told investigators at the time.

White told investigators in a compelled interview on Dec. 8, 2020 that it was “a waste of my time” to provide Kingdom’s investment documents.

More recently, White appears to be operating Steadfast Developments as a "Social Justice Land Developer," which maintains an online presence but whose contact phone number is no longer in use.

On Facebook, White wrote, on Jan. 17, 2021, “Steadfast Developments is a wholistic, social impact land development company that not only focuses on affordable, sustainable, community housing, but also looks at ending poverty in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, BC, Canada through social enterprise, education, health and welfare, and the arts.”

The commission’s administrative findings are determined on a balance of probabilities, unlike criminal ones which bear a higher standard of proof in court. The commission says it forwards cases to police or recommends charges to the BC Prosecution Service where it sees fit; however, it generally does not disclose such proceedings publicly and would not do so in White’s case.

The tribunal noted it’s unlikely investors will see their money returned. Collecting sanctions from subjects has proven difficult for the commission, which could block White from renewing her driver’s licence if she does not repay the money or produce a repayment plan.