A B.C. advisor and former Olympian who went missing amidst accusations he mismanaged clients’ money has been spotted entering Washington State.
Harold Backer, a 52-year-old former Canadian Olympic rower, went missing on Nov. 3. Backer competed in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games.
The Victoria Police Department issued a statement saying Backer told his family that he was going for a bike ride but failed to return home.
The Canadian Securities Administrators’ website shows Backer has been registered as an MFDA advisor for Investia Financial Services since Sept. 2009, and he’s authorized to sell mutual funds in B.C. and Ontario. His LinkedIn profile says he’s owned the Financial Backer Corporation since Sept. 1992. His CSA profile says Backer “agrees to be closely supervised.” For Ontario, Backer’s firm must compete monthly supervision reports on his sales activities and deals with clients. (Investia told CHEK News that the close supervision “in no way relates to Backer’s mutual fund dealings with clients.”)
Some of Backer’s clients alleged to the Victoria Times Colonist that they believe Backer lost them “a substantial amount of money.”
The Times Colonist also obtained a letter Backer allegedly sent clients before he disappeared in which he took responsibility for their losses. The paper reports that the letter says the losses were initially caused by the tech crash of 1999-2000.
He never told his clients about the losses, which the letter says were as high as 45%. Instead, he thought he could eventually make his clients whole again by foregoing his fees. But, the letter says, he couldn’t keep pace with the market’s annual rate of return without shuffling money between clients.
The letter says, “I am aware that I am running a pyramid investment,” reports the Times Colonist. “I will not keep doing it.” The letter adds he would admit to fraud charges if that would help his clients.
There are no public notices of hearings or decisions against Backer with regulators in either province, MFDA or IIROC. Investia told the Times Colonist that they’re taking the situation seriously, and while they have no evidence of wrongdoing by Backer so far, they’re investigating.
Police in Washington State are almost certain Backer entered the state aboard a ferry the day he went missing.
Deputy Chief Brian Smith of the Port Angeles Police Department said Tuesday that an officer who viewed video surveillance from a street camera saw a man matching Backer’s description. “We’re operating from the premise that he did enter the U.S.; that it was him,” Smith said.