Monday, June 24, 2013

Goodbye And Good Luck To...

....Mr. Baines.

From his farewell to his VSun readers published last Friday:

...Upon my return to The Sun in 1988 (after a sojourn in banking), this time as a stock reporter, I came to another realization: There is no such thing as “free” speech. Whenever I wrote a column that cut close to the bone, the lawsuits would start flying.

I learned that it takes money, not just to publish stories, but also to defend them. I am fortunate to have worked for a newspaper that has the means and mindset to do both, and to have had great libel lawyers — notably Rob Anderson, Scott Dawson, and the late Barry Gibson — to guide me through this jungle.

It also takes guts to supervise this sort of reportage. Any editor who approves a contentious story has to be a strong and confident person. Lawsuits, if they do not go well, can break careers. I am fortunate to have had fearless editors over the years, most notably our erstwhile editor-in-chief, Patricia Graham.

Over the past quarter century, The Sun has published 3,887 stories under my byline. Most of those stories are about people who, one way or another, tried to take unfair advantage of others. Having the voice to run interference with those people has been a great privilege and satisfaction for me.

That all comes to an end today. When the Pacific Newspaper Group indicated it was willing to buy out employees, I put my hand up. I am 64 years old. It comes at a good time...


I know some folks who stop by here occassionally probably think I don't like newspapers.

But, in fact...

It's actually the exact opposite.

Just ask my long suffering, newsprint throwing-out wife.

It's just that I want the people that work hard for newspapers to write just as hard, if not harder, with the backing of all those supervisors, editors, publishers and libel lawyers that Mr. Baines mentioned above.

So that they can produce stuff like this, which is from just one of those 3,887 pieces that appeared under Mr. Baines' byline over the years:

...(Vancouver -based) Veridigm was purportedly developing an online gambling business. In March 2007, Jeffrey Eng, who was president in name, if not in fact, announced the company had "successfully completed a letter of agreement" to license online gambling software from a private company called Dimensions Inc.....

{snippety doo-dah}

...About this time, Alise Mills, a Vancouver public relations specialist and occasional radio and television political commentator, became a director and vice-president of corporate communications.

Her arrival was the first hint that (Howe Street promoter Louis) Dion was working behind the scenes. Two years earlier, Mills had held a similar position with the World Bingo League Co. Inc. (a.k.a. World Entertainment Corp. and World Mobile Network Corp.), which featured Dion as president and controlling shareholder.

World Bingo was a disaster for investors. As detailed in my column last Saturday, Dion told prospective investors that, within three years, the company's online bingo games would generate $54 million in revenues and $17 million in net profits. In fact, the company didn't generate a cent of revenues.

In June 2007, Mills announced "the upcoming launch" of Veridigm's newly developed game, Megaz Bucks, which she described as "the largest progressive jackpot game ever to be offered on the Internet."

Not mentioned was the fact that the domain name,, had been registered the previous month by Kerrie Naples, who is Dion's daughter.

On July 12, 2007, Mills announced the official launch of the Megaz Bucks game, with a "progressive jackpot that would begin at $5 million and grow from there."

About that time, Eng quit as president and was replaced by Rowland Mosser, a businessman from Lucerne, Calif., who was said to be "currently working with some investors to build a 100-unit resort hotel and restaurant on Clear Lake in Lake County in Northern California."

Not mentioned was the fact that his joint venture partner was the Boardwalk Group of Companies, a Vancouver company whose president is Louis Dion.

In September 2007, Veridigm announced a master licensing agreement with Cannes Games. According to Mills, the agreement would enable Veridigm "to further position itself as a leading international provider of progressive online gaming software." No further details were provided

Mills also announced the company would move its head office from Vancouver to Dublin, which she described as "a leading city in the online gaming software and entertainment industry."

Mills said about 35 Veridigm staff would relocate to Dublin from Vancouver. "Our plan is take on an additional 25 to 30 people with software skills and see us eventually employing over 100 people," she said. (There is no indication in any of Veridigm's public filings that the company had anywhere near 35 employees.)

All these boosterish announcements were difficult to reconcile with the company's financial statements, which showed the company failed to generate a single cent of revenue during the year ending Dec. 31, 2007.

Furthermore, the company had no capacity to generate any revenue. As of Dec. 31, 2007, it had zero cash and its total assets consisted of office equipment valued at $3,471.

So what happened to the $4.5-million financing that the company had announced in March 2007? Mills confessed in a news release in December 2007 -some nine months after the fact -that the financing never happened.

She also admitted the company never consummated the deal with Dimensions Inc., which was supposed to provide access to a gaming platform that generated $125 million annually in betting revenue. Ditto for the deal with Cannes Games. In February 2008, the company announced it had removed Mills as a senior officer and director. By that time, the stock -which traded as high as 22 cents in June 2007 -had sunk to two cents....


Apologies for linking back to a post of my own for the passage above, it's just that the owners of the VSun, in their wisdom, have, apparently, chosen to remove Mr. Baines' original piece from full-on public view...

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