May 22, 2004
Disgraced investment manager Harutyun
Migirdicoglu, who a lawyer for the Investment Dealers Association of
Canada said yesterday should be barred for life for a long list of
misdeeds, was a big wheel in Montreal's Armenian community, from which
he drew many of his clients.
"To me, he was like God. He lived in a big house, drove a Mercedes. I
was proud to see an Armenian fellow so successful in English society,"
said Richard Papazian, 43, whose late mother was one of his clients -
and he alleges in his suit, one of Migirdicoglu's victims.
The former CIBC World Markets vice-president, more commonly known as
Harry Migirdic, was a registered investment representative in Quebec for
more than two decades. In 1986, he was made a vice- president at Merrill
Lynch, and in 1990 transferred to the downtown branch of Wood Gundy -
At both firms, he was the subject of several warnings and disciplinary
measures, including a $30,000 fine at CIBC for knowingly accepting a
power-of-attorney he knew had not been signed by the owner of an
account, according to evidence presented yesterday to a three-member
disciplinary panel of the IDA.
Terminated by CIBC in April 2001, Migirdic has not worked since for any
firm belonging to the Investment Dealers' Association.
And he won't again, if the recommendation of lawyer Caroline Champagne
to the panel is accepted.
The panel is expected to make its decision in a couple of weeks.
Migirdic, who swung his briefcase at a Gazette photographer as he
entered the IDA offices yesterday, did not comment on Champagne's
proposal. But he did say he meant no harm to clients. The abrupt fall of
Wall St. and stocks like Nortel triggered what happened, he said.
The infractions were committed "to cover another account," he told the
panel. "There was no intent to harm any one client, only to help another
client who was in trouble. I couldn't help any of my clients at the end.
The IDA listed 24 rule transgressions during Migirdic's time as a CIBC
representative. At a disciplinary hearing in March, Migirdic didn't deny
the allegations, but did not plead guilty. He said all transactions were
done with the clients' consent, since they'd given him the mandate to
make their money grow. Only when markets went bad did they complain
about his management, he said.
The IDA, however, found him guilty on all counts.
Its preliminary report said more than 20 clients, many of them elderly,
had complained to CIBC about his conduct
In one case, Migirdic had a trading account for a holding company
guaranteeing a trading account opened in the name of his 73-year- old
uncle in Turkey. The guarantee eventually led to the extraction of more
than $691,000 from the company account, cleaning out the owners.
In another case, Migirdic made about 1,400 trades over a seven- year
period in the account of an investor who had listed his risk tolerance
as low. The portfolio shrank by more than 50 per cent between December
1999 and June 2000, dropping to $471,519 from $1 million.
In yet another case, Migirdic had two longtime clients sign a document
"under the false pretense that it was required for account maintenance,"
the IDA said.
The signatures actually guaranteed the account of someone unrelated
whose trading losses they ended up covering to the tune of $356,824.