Yuen Pau Woo joined Ponzi operator’s event as special guest a month before Senate appointment

By Amy Chen

Yuen Pau Woo joined alleged Ponzi operator Istuary Investment Group’s third anniversary celebrations a mere month before being appointed to Canada’s Senate by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

An announcement by Istuary[1]http://archive.is/fAqup#selection-729.468-729.507 and an article in the Chinese government-backed portal China.com.cn.[2]http://news.china.com.cn/cndg/2016-10/08/content_39443648.htm show that Senator Woo, the leader of the Independent Senators Group (ISG) – the largest bloc in the red chamber, attended the celebratory luncheon held at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel on September 27, 2016.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Woo to the senate on October 27, 2016, exactly a month later.[3]http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/10/27/prime-minister-announces-intention-recommend-appointment-nine-new-senators

Other special guests who attended the event include Joe Peschisolido, MP of Canada, Paul Irwin, Executive Director, East‐Asia Branch of the Ministry of International Trade, Ian McKay, CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission, Christian Hansen, Regional Director of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, and Jimmy Mitchell, VP of Advantage BC.

Yuen Pau Woo, as the then HQ Vancouver President, appeared to be a staunch early supporter of Istuary Group and it’s CEO Ethan Sun.[4]http://www.hqvancouver.ca/istuary-innovation-group-announce-the-opening-of-their-hq-in-vancouver/.

“We are delighted to support their expansion in Canada and plans for further growth into Asia,” Woo said in a 2015 press release. “Istuary’s expansion demonstrates why British Columbia is a natural choice for companies looking to benefit from the strong business support ecosystem and our close ties with Asia.”

After news of the Ponzi scandal broke, Woo tried to distance himself from the company facing multiple lawsuits by investors who allege that Sun tricked them into believe that Istuary was a high-tech company, when in reality, the CEO and his wife were using the money to speculate in Metro Vancouver’s volatile property market.[5]https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-G2xjXkuEpCM0RLY3MwMVJBMHM/view?usp=sharing[6]https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-G2xjXkuEpCaktBbk9fZDdiUE0/view.

“After some initial meetings with Istuary, I became increasingly skeptical about their business model,” Woo told reporters in an email. “I decided to significantly reduce HQ Vancouver’s engagement with Istuary.”

Reviews on employer rating site Glassdoor shows that employees have been raising red flags about Istuary being a Ponzi scheme as far back as 2015.

“Yes, this is indeed a very “innovative” form of fraud! At least in Canada!” one reviewer claims[7]https://www.glassdoor.ca/Reviews/Employee-Review-Istuary-Innovation-Group-RVW8961376.htm. “They take advantage of well-known political and business organizations to boost their reputation.”

Senator Woo responded to our request for comment confirming his attendance at the event.

“Yes, I attended their 3rd anniversary event as a courtesy, along with Federal, Provincial, and Municipal officials,” Senator Woo told ThinkPol in an email. “However, unlike senior officials from government and other agencies, I declined Istuary’s invitation for me to be a “VIP” speaker at the event. That was a deliberate decision on my part, stemming from my skepticism of their business model.”

References   [ + ]

1. http://archive.is/fAqup#selection-729.468-729.507
2. http://news.china.com.cn/cndg/2016-10/08/content_39443648.htm
3. http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/10/27/prime-minister-announces-intention-recommend-appointment-nine-new-senators
4. http://www.hqvancouver.ca/istuary-innovation-group-announce-the-opening-of-their-hq-in-vancouver/
5. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-G2xjXkuEpCM0RLY3MwMVJBMHM/view?usp=sharing
6. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-G2xjXkuEpCaktBbk9fZDdiUE0/view
7. https://www.glassdoor.ca/Reviews/Employee-Review-Istuary-Innovation-Group-RVW8961376.htm