Montreal: Fired broker unrepentant

Montreal Gazette, Canada
May 22 2004

Fired broker unrepentant
Insists he was trying to help his clients

Paul Delean
The Gazette

Pic: Money manager Harry Migirdic could be barred for life.

Disgraced investment manager Harutyun Migirdicoglu, who a lawyer for
the Investment Dealers Association of Canada said yesterday should be
barred for life for a long list of misdeeds, was a big wheel in
Montreal’s Armenian community, from which he drew many of his

“To me, he was like God. He lived in a big house, drove a Mercedes. I
was proud to see an Armenian fellow so successful in English
society,” said Richard Papazian, 43, whose late mother was one of his
clients – and he alleges in his suit, one of Migirdicoglu’s victims.

The former CIBC World Markets vice-president, more commonly known as
Harry Migirdic, was a registered investment representative in Quebec
for more than two decades. In 1986, he was made a vice-president at
Merrill Lynch, and in 1990 transferred to the downtown branch of Wood
Gundy – now CIBC.

At both firms, he was the subject of several warnings and
disciplinary measures, including a $30,000 fine at CIBC for knowingly
accepting a power-of-attorney he knew had not been signed by the
owner of an account, according to evidence presented yesterday to a
three-member disciplinary panel of the IDA.

Terminated by CIBC in April 2001, Migirdic has not worked since for
any firm belonging to the Investment Dealers’ Association.

And he won’t again, if the recommendation of lawyer Caroline
Champagne to the panel is accepted.

The panel is expected to make its decision in a couple of weeks.

Migirdic, who swung his briefcase at a Gazette photographer as he
entered the IDA offices yesterday, did not comment on Champagne’s
proposal. But he did say he meant no harm to clients. The abrupt fall
of Wall St. and stocks like Nortel triggered what happened, he said.

The infractions were committed “to cover another account,” he told
the panel. “There was no intent to harm any one client, only to help
another client who was in trouble. I couldn’t help any of my clients
at the end. Everybody suffered.”

The IDA listed 24 rule transgressions during Migirdic’s time as a
CIBC representative. At a disciplinary hearing in March, Migirdic
didn’t deny the allegations, but did not plead guilty. He said all
transactions were done with the clients’ consent, since they’d given
him the mandate to make their money grow. Only when markets went bad
did they complain about his management, he said.

The IDA, however, found him guilty on all counts.

Its preliminary report said more than 20 clients, many of them
elderly, had complained to CIBC about his conduct

In one case, Migirdic had a trading account for a holding company
guaranteeing a trading account opened in the name of his 73-year-old
uncle in Turkey. The guarantee eventually led to the extraction of
more than $691,000 from the company account, cleaning out the owners.

In another case, Migirdic made about 1,400 trades over a seven-year
period in the account of an investor who had listed his risk
tolerance as low. The portfolio shrank by more than 50 per cent
between December 1999 and June 2000, dropping to $471,519 from $1

In yet another case, Migirdic had two longtime clients sign a
document “under the false pretense that it was required for account
maintenance,” the IDA said.

The signatures actually guaranteed the account of someone unrelated
whose trading losses they ended up covering to the tune of $356,824.