As part of an agreed settlement, Mr. Ayre admitted to making "misrepresentations" concerning millions of Bicer shares he controlled. The BCSC ruling says he "traded through accounts in other persons' names at several brokerage firms."
He had also breached an undertaking he gave shortly after joining Bicer -- that he would stay away from a character named Erich Brunnhuber.
(Records show that, at the time, Mr. Brunnhuber was supposed to be in the middle of a seven-year jail term he was serving for multimillion-dollar mining-stock fraud in 1984. Yet he had been allowed out of prison, and briefly went to work in Bicer's marketing department, before a judge allowed him to visit his ailing mother in Germany. Mr. Brunnhuber never returned, and is still a fugitive .)
For his part, Mr. Ayre has moved on. Bicer, he said, was the biggest mistake of his life.
"It's the first thing I did out of university. I had no idea what was going on," he said in exasperation. "I don't want to talk about this any more. You are asking me about something that happened 15 years ago that has nothing to do with who I am today. I am saddened by that."
The unlikely ascent of Calvin Ayre, according to the autobiographical entry on his company's website, is an almost archetypal account of the self-made man. After finishing his MBA, he sold his worldly possessions for $10,000 and used the money to create a software firm. Then he envisioned an even grander scheme: using the nascent Internet to tap into the sports gaming industry.
Ten years and $1-billion later, Mr. Ayre sounds almost modest when he declares, "the gamble paid off."
It's a good story. However, in an interview, Mr. Ayre acknowledged he was involved in plenty of ventures during the 1990s, many of which didn't fare so well. "Most of my businesses have actually failed," he said. "That's how you learn."
Still, his past dealings are not entirely clear, and Mr. Ayre would just as soon not talk about some of them.
Around the same time he was working at Bicer, in the early 1990s, he began developing connections in the Vancouver stock markets, joining nine different corporate boards. He also had a hand in starting several companies, including Calvex International (which once planned to build a $100-million trade centre in Ho Chi Minh City) eBanx, Ecomm Relationship Technologies, and most crucially, Cyberoad.com, a software gaming company.
"There's no point in me talking about Cyberoad," Mr. Ayre said dismissively in an interview. "It wasn't my company, it was only one of a number of customers I had."
In U.S. regulatory filings, however, Mr. Ayre is described as the "creator and visionary" of Cyberoad. The filings say he gave up his CEO's title shortly before the company obtained a stock listing in the U.S. "over-the-counter" market in the spring of 1999, and began acting as a consultant.
At this point, Mr. Ayre was involved in a complex web of interconnected companies, many offshore, that are difficult to distinguish from one another. Take Cyberoad as an example: There were three different companies with that name, one based in Ireland, another in the Isle of Man, and the eventual public company, Cyberoad Corp., based in Florida.
It's not clear how much money, if any, Mr. Ayre made off this venture. However, regulatory records show that Cyberoad paid its Irish subsidiary nearly nine million shares of the company when it went public.
Cyberoad itself was not without controversy. Shortly before Cyberoad went public, its stock was hovering at a mere 62 cents. Just over a month later, it had skyrocketed to $6.88 a share, and was the subject of higher than average trading. Then came the slide. The stock quickly deflated, dropping to 12 cents by the summer of 2000. Since then, it hasn't been worth more than a few pennies a share.
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