Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

David Sharpe of Bridging Finance in Toronto on Feb. 9, 2017.


Of all the questions surrounding Bridging Finance Inc. – the $2-billion private debt manager placed under the control of a receiver last week – few compared to the one asked at 2:22 p.m. last Thursday.

At the time, David Sharpe, Bridging’s chief executive officer, was in his home and under examination over video conference by a forensic accountant and lawyer from the Ontario Securities Commission. Under oath, he was repeatedly asked whether he had ever accepted any money from one of Bridging’s largest borrowers, a Winnipeg-based businessman named Sean McCoshen whose companies had borrowed more than $180-million from Bridging.

Mr. Sharpe was nearly unequivocal: To the best of his knowledge, no, he hadn’t.

Story continues below advertisement

Why then, they asked, did a company controlled by Mr. McCoshen deposit a total of $19.5-million in Mr. Sharpe’s personal chequing account?

Mr. Sharpe asked for a moment to confer with his lawyer, then, after a 10-minute break, he changed his tune: “So I’ve had some personal financial dealings with Sean McCoshen and in the way of loans from him,” he told them.

Asked to explain why he didn’t disclose this earlier, Mr. Sharpe replied: “I honestly didn’t think it was applicable.” A little later, when pressed to explain why the payments seemed to come within days of Bridging advancing loans to Mr. McCoshen’s companies, Mr. Sharpe conceded: “It certainly does not look good. That’s for sure.”

The OSC agreed, and a little more than 24 hours after that interview, a transcript of which has been filed in court, the regulator turned to Ontario Superior Court Justice Glenn Hainey to place Bridging under the control of receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

In the aftermath, Bridging’s investment clients, the majority of whom are accredited retail investors, are left wondering what will become of their money. Documents filed in court depict a complex web of loans and payments between Bridging funds, clients, owners and executives that will take time to work through while the money manager is under the control of PwC.

The transactions include the $19.5-million payment from Mr. McCoshen, as well as Bridging’s decision to assign to Mr. McCoshen a large loan it made to troubled construction company Bondfield Construction at cost and for no payment.

Bridging’s relationship with former co-owner Gary Ng is also under the microscope. Two days before Mr. Sharpe was interviewed, the OSC asked Bridging co-owner Jenny Coco about a $10-million dividend the company paid to Mr. Ng weeks before they bought back his $50-million stake for $5 because of fraud allegations against him. Through her lawyer, Ms. Coco said the money was advanced to help Mr. Ng service some troubled loans.

Story continues below advertisement

In its request for receivership, the OSC has alleged a number of improprieties around disclosure and conflicts of interest at Bridging: that Bridging improperly used investors’ money to buy out a fund-management contract from another firm, Ninepoint Partners LP, with which it had been co-managing the Bridging Income Fund; that Mr. Sharpe asked a client to take part in a questionable transaction that was designed to “give the appearance” that the Ninepoint payment had been financed through a loan; and that Bridging lent $32-million in investors’ money to Mr. Ng just two weeks before he bought a 50-per-cent stake in Bridging.

But central to the OSC’s case, and the predominant topic its staff returned to again and again when they probed Mr. Sharpe last week, is his relationship with Mr. McCoshen, the visionary behind a proposed railway line connecting northern Alberta and the ports of Alaska.

The Alaska-Alberta Railway Development Corp., or AARDC, which was founded by Mr. McCoshen, is Bridging’s biggest borrower, with debts exceeding $180-million.

Mr. McCoshen did not respond to requests for comment. AARDC, where Mr. McCoshen also serves as CEO, issued a statement saying it “was disappointed to learn of the allegations against Bridging Finance and its principals.”

The OSC’s analysis of Mr. Sharpe’s Bank of Montreal chequing account, which was filed in court, shows that between 2017 and 2019 a company controlled by Mr. McCoshen made six payments to Mr. Sharpe – each of them made within days of Bridging advancing loans to Mr. McCoshen’s companies.

In his interview on Thursday, the OSC pushed Mr. Sharpe on these transactions – which he had declined to mention in a previous interview in 2020. Asked whether there was an actual loan agreement explaining the payments, Mr. Sharpe replied: “There’s probably one,” before making a more definitive statement that, yes, there was an agreement. It was a hard copy at the Bridging office, he said.

Story continues below advertisement

The investigators demanded that he produce the loan documents by 5 p.m. that day, citing concerns that Mr. Sharpe had been “intentionally misleading” them – a characterization disputed by Mr. Sharpe’s lawyer. At 8:13 p.m. that night his lawyer e-mailed OSC lawyer Carlo Rossi to say Mr. Sharpe went to Bridging’s office but could not find the agreement.

In his interview, which was compelled under Ontario’s securities law, Mr. Sharpe was vague about the purpose of the loan from Mr. McCoshen, saying it was “for investments.”

Mr. Rossi asked Mr. Sharpe a blunt question: “So, Mr. Sharpe, I just want to put it squarely to you. Are these kickbacks that Mr. McCoshen is paying you in connection with extending loans to his companies?”

Mr. Sharpe replied: “No, they’re not.”

The investigators also questioned Mr. Sharpe about what became of the millions Mr. McCoshen advanced him. Mr. Sharpe’s chequing account showed that, in addition to payments for renovations and car leases, Mr. Sharpe made payments to two Bridging employees: $260,000 to the company’s vice-president of sales, Ian Baele, and payments totalling $180,000 to Bridging’s chief compliance officer, Andrew Mushore. Mr. Sharpe said these were “gifts.”

The investigators asked him how normal it was for him to give employees such large gifts.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Sharpe replied: “I’m a very generous person.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies