A North Vancouver resident who stole investor funds has pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $5,000 following an investigation by the B.C. Securities Commission Criminal Investigations Branch.
Ward Derek Jensen, 55, pleaded guilty on January 29 in North Vancouver Provincial Court, admitting that he stole US$971,585 from nine investors. The investors gave Jensen US$1.66 million between 2007 and 2017 to invest in a purported private investment fund held at a Chicago firm and administered through his B.C. company, Kassel Enterprises.
Neither Jensen nor his company were registered to trade securities as required by B.C.’s Securities Act, nor did they qualify for any exemptions. Jensen promised investors he could generate annual returns of 14 percent and 18 percent on any funds entrusted to him. In reality, he misappropriated investor funds for his personal use and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of investor funds, making bad stock trades through his own personal brokerage account. Jensen concealed his theft and the trading losses he incurred by providing forged monthly statements to his victims, showing their investments continuously growing.
Jensen’s earliest victim was a close personal friend, and the majority of his other victims were friends and relatives of the first investor. The original victim told his family and friends, including his wife and mother, about the returns that Jensen was generating and encouraged them to invest. According to Jensen’s banking records, he rarely – if ever – had enough funds to return the investors’ principal investment, let alone any purported gains.
When one victim asked to withdraw some of her money, Jensen lied and said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had frozen the funds in his account. As of 2020, Jensen had less than $50,000 Canadian available to repay the victims of his theft. In a text message to the first investor, Jensen wrote in part: “What I have done is unforgivable, and I never meant for any of this to happen … I’m so sorry I have betrayed you and your family and friends.”
Jensen, arrested in October 2022, remains on bail pending his scheduled sentencing on May 6.