Ex-Langley spiritual leader cleared of stock trading allegations

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

Allegations of stock trading violations against a Langley spiritual leader were dismissed by a B.C. Securities Commission hearing this month.

James Gravelle borrowed $740,000 from five investors – including $500,000 from a married couple – in 2012 and 2013.

All the investors were also members a religious group called the Bondservants of Elohim, of which Gravelle was a spiritual leader at the time, according to the Securities Commission judgment.

Gravelle gave the investors promissory notes for the return of their money, with interest, by specified dates.

However, while Gravelle and his W.Y. ATAP Investments company did return interest for a time, that eventually ended. All the investors lost money. The money was for investments in enterprises such as commercial real estate, gravel pits, and newspapers.

The money was invested in a company bank account, and at least a portion of the money went towards Gravelle’s personnal living expenses, according to the Securities Commission documents.

The hearing heard testimony from one of the main investors.

“It was clear that the respondents provided little information to the husband and wife as to the specifics of the use of their funds or the investments to be made by the respondents,” wrote the securities commissioners.

Securities Commission executive director Peter Brady alleged that Gravelle violated the Securities Act by issuing the promissory notes without being registered to trade in securities, and that he should not have promised repayment on securities.

However, the Securities Commissioners found Gravelle had not violated B.C. stock trading laws.

In B.C., people can sell financial securities without registering if they do it infrequently, are not acting as intermediaries, and do not do it as a primary business or for commission.

“The respondents [Gravelle and W.Y. ATAP] did not hold themselves out as being in the business of trading in securities,” the commissioners wrote in their judgment. “In the circumstances of this case, the eight issuances of promissory notes by the respondents to a total of five investors over an 11 month period is not frequent trading activity.”

The allegations were dismissed.

Reached by the Langley Advance, Gravelle declined to comment on the case. He said he is no longer with the Bondservants of Elohim.

The Bondservants of Elohim are a spiritual organization that believes both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible were originally written in Hebrew. They believe that translations into other languages have obscured the original meanings of the text, and believe in studying the untranslated manuscripts.

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