Sep 7, 2021
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A Canadian businessman with ties to troubled Toronto-based private lender Bridging Finance Inc. described the investigation into the firm by Canada’s top capital markets regulator as an "unfortunate situation [and] distraction."
Adrian Montgomery, currently the chief executive officer of online gaming company Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc., also ran Aquilini GameCo Inc. – which took out a $20 million loan from Bridging Finance in Aug. 2019 -- a month before the company announced it would merge with Enthusiast Gaming.
"The situation vis-a-vis Bridging Finance is an unfortunate one, to say the least," Montgomery said in an interview. "As it pertains to Enthusiast Gaming, we are a borrower but we only have $10 million in debt, a cash balance of over $50 million as of June 30, so our balance sheet is strong."
Bridging Finance is currently under the control of PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. (PwC) following an order by an Ontario court after the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) requested the move pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations against the lender and its then-senior executives. According to the OSC, Bridging Finance mismanaged funds and failed to disclose conflicts of interest. Its former chief executive, David Sharpe, and his wife Natasha, who was chief investment officer at the firm, were ousted from their roles shortly after PwC was appointed as receiver. The OSC’s allegations have not been proven.
Montgomery's connection to Bridging Finance extend beyond loan agreements with Enthusiast Gaming. The Globe and Mail published a report last month stating that Montgomery served as a director for a family trust created by the Sharpes. The trust allegedly moved misappropriated money to Liechtenstein around the same time Montgomery stepped down from his director role, the report said.
"As it pertains to myself, I was a passive trustee on a family trust," he said. "I resigned in February in 2020 so almost a full year before any of these allegations [came out]. Again, an unfortunate situation, an unfortunate distraction."
Montgomery's comments came shortly after Enthusiast Gaming announced it acquired casual gaming website Addicting Games for US$34.4 million.