A man involved in starting a “seed library” in Abbotsford and a music program in Aldergrove has been charged with nine counts of contravening the B.C. Securities Act.
John David Briner, a former securities lawyer in Vancouver who lives in Abbotsford, was charged at the end of March for “failing to comply with a decision made under the act” in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
According to the provincial court database, he was released from custody on $5,000 bail and next appears May 11 in Vancouver provincial court.
Briner, 37, is involved locally in the Abbotsford Seed Library, which held its first “seed exchange” on March 29.
The program invites the public to trade extra or previous years’ seeds for organic, non-GMO and heritage seeds.
Briner is also a co-founder of the Aldergrove-based Music Access Society, a non-profit group that provides music instruction to kids in Aldergrove, Langley and Abbotsford who otherwise can’t afford it.
Briner’s difficulties with the authorities date back to 2009.
In September of that year, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint in court against Briner, saying he participated in a fraudulent scheme to artificially inflate the market for shares in a penny stock company.
The charges were never proved in court, but in April 2010, Briner reached an agreement with the SEC, consenting to sanctions that included five-year bans from serving as an officer or director of an issuer of certain securities and from participating in any offering of penny stocks. He was also ordered to pay back $52,488 in ill-gotten gains and a $25,000 civil penalty.
Following the agreement with the SEC, a panel from the B.C. Securities Commission (BCSC) also gave Briner a five-year ban, which is in place until Nov. 3 of this year.
The Law Society of B.C. began professional misconduct proceedings against Briner in July 2014, alleging he misappropriated $50,439 from a client between December 2012 and October 2013.
Briner failed to show up for a discipline hearing on the matter, held last December, but was found to have committed professional misconduct.
Documents in that case state that Briner had applied the misappropriated funds to another client and for his own use and failed to co-operate with a Law Society investigation into the matter.
A date to determine disciplinary action has not yet been set, although Briner is not currently practising law.
Briner again became the subject of SEC action in January of this year, when the commission announced charges against Briner and 10 others. The SEC alleges that Briner orchestrated a scheme which entailed creating shell companies supposedly exploring mining activities.
The SEC alleges that because Briner was still under his five-year ban from the SEC, he recruited clients and associates to become officers “while he secretly controlled the companies from behind the scenes.”
Stop-order proceedings by the SEC last year resulted in the suspension of the registration for the 20 microcap companies before any investors purchased the stocks.
That matter will now be scheduled for a public hearing before a judge to determine whether any action should be taken against Briner and the others, who are accused of violating the antifraud provision of the U.S. Securities Act and engaging in improper professional conduct.
Also south of the border, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced last week that it has filed civil action against Briner and a California man, Matthew Marcus, for engaging in fictitious single stock future transactions and trading non-competitively.
It is alleged that the two engaged in 624 round-turn trades involving 1,248 transactions between their two accounts and moved at least $390,000. A restraining order was issued to freeze certain assets of the pair and to prohibit them from destroying documents.
Briner, his wife and their seven children now operate a 14-acre market garden farm in the Bradner area of Abbotsford, according to information online.