Victoria businessman Greg Martel has been in the mortgage and banking industry for more than two decades. His company, Shop your Own Mortgage, was launched in 2016, promising to streamline the mortgage process and offering private lending opportunities — but now it appears to have hit a major hurdle.
Martel and his company have been hit with 11 civil lawsuits this year from lenders who say they haven’t been paid. While one of the 11 has since been settled out of court, the total being claimed is just shy of $28 million.
On Thursday, a B.C. Supreme Court justice put Shop Your Own Mortgage into receivership, appointing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to take control of all of the company’s assets and property, effective immediately.
Nanaimo realtor Rick Horsland says he invested with Shop Your Own Mortgage a year ago. Horsland says the company would send out opportunities for short-term “bridge loans,” promising lenders returns of nine to 20 per cent.
“I invested a large sum of money and everything was going good up until the last six months where there was delayed interest payments,” he said.
While Horsland says he eventually got his funds back he says he has friends who haven’t.
“I know I have a friend who’s a single mom, and she’s invested most of her life savings into Greg Martel’s mortgage fund and she’s now faced with the prospect of getting a lawyer and she’s losing sleep at night.”
In early April, Martel hosted a webinar with lenders acknowledging their frustrations with the delayed payments.
“I know a lot of people probably want to nail me to the cross right now as far as lack of information and missing dates and people establishing timelines and me not meeting the timelines,” Martel told the group via video.
Martel said the company had grown too quickly and that issues with the payout system were behind the delays, reassuring everyone the problems were being rectified.
“I apologize if you guys feel like I’m lying to you, I’m not. I’m literally up at night non-stop working to make sure we get everything done by the tax season for everyone, and then after that tax season is done we’ll be caught up,” he said.
Martel’s response to one of the civil claims admits the money being claimed is owed but denies any wrongdoing, saying Martel and his company have not wrongfully handled, misappropriated, embezzled, disposed of or destroyed the money, that the delays are a result of high client volumes and staff shortages and that the money will be returned.
CHEK News tried to reach out to Greg Martel but has not yet received a response.
The receivership will be reconsidered by the courts Tuesday morning in Vancouver.
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