KELOWNA – When Mark Consiglio finally declares bankruptcy, as it appears he will soon, some of his investors could be right behind him.
Not all the investors in Kelowna Mountain were wealthy international or institutional lenders; some, like retired seniors Lorne and Irene Bossy, are here in the Okanagan.
They first met and invested with Consiglio in a separate project roughly 12 years ago. They profited from that investment and it produced no red flags, so when another opportunity arose, they were interested in Kelowna Mountain.
The Bossys mortgaged their land in Lake Country and invested $500,000 on the promise that it would be invested for one year at 18 per cent interest.
Now, eleven years later they have yet to be fully repaid and are running out of reasons to expect it.
“It’s been life changing,” Irene Bossy says. “We had some money saved for our retirement, we took all that out because we trusted (them). We live on beans and carrots; we can’t afford to buy steak anymore. We can’t afford to go out... we haven’t been to a theatre in years."
Consiglio’s ill-fated project seemed doomed from the start.
First, he diverted a watercourse without permission and started promoting the area as a ski hill and major residential development. That came as a surprise to the Central Okanagan Regional District because it didn’t have permits or plans, so directors enveloped the entire area in legal planning documents that described what could and could not go on that land. A large-scale residential project and ski hill were not on the list.
His plans were modified to include the suspension bridges (also not permitted nor inspected), then a $100 million ‘wine park’ — all of which failed to materialize, costing his investors time and money.
He unsuccessfully sued the regional district several times, claiming bias that cost him $50 million.
It appears now that all his investors have lost patience and are pursuing Consiglio and his companies, including Tri City Capital which has led the charge in court.
But there’s another group of 31 mostly local investors who loaned him money in 2006, including the Bossys. Last year a judge ordered Consiglio to put the largest of three Kelowna Mountain parcels of land up for sale to pay some of Consiglio’s debt, and now all three lots have been ordered to be sold by court order.
A few weeks ago, even Consiglio's lawyer left the case.
Rick Dowding owns his part in promoting Kelowna Mountain and enticing investors, but says he regrets ever working with Consiglio. In the meantime, as one of the 31 who invested in Kelowna Mountain, he’s also stuck trying to get blood from a stone.
Neither Mark nor wife Nicola Consiglio — nor any of his known companies — hold title on any property in Kelowna, West Kelowna or Vancouver. Numerous requests for comment were unsuccessful.
Tri City Capital Corporation president Michael Goodman says they have gotten judgements on all properties they lent on. Some were guaranteed by Mark and his wife, others by Kelowna-area financial planner Brad MacBeth, a Kelowna lawyer and two other individuals.
“There are going to (be) short falls after we sell, and we will be going after their personal covenants,” Goodman says in an email. “We have examined many of them under oath and all claim they have no assets.”
He says most, including Consiglio, will end up declaring bankruptcy or hiding assets to avoid paying.
“I don’t think there is any question he is going to go bankrupt, but it won’t be him doing it, it will be the people he borrowed from who drive him into bankruptcy,” Goodman says.
Dowding says he is in regular contact with Consiglio, who has expressed interest in repaying his debts but “he hasn’t written any cheques.” He also has made those promises for well over a decade.
It's been even longer for the Bossys and they still don’t know if, when and how they might recoup their investment. Their earning years are over and this investment was to help fund their retirement.
“It’s taken a toll on our whole family,” Irene says.
Find past stories on Mark Consiglio and Kelowna Mountain here.
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