Trump U staff included Canadian couple involved in fraud

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trump University’s history of employing instructors with troubling backgrounds extended outside the U.S. A husband and wife who led seminars for the program in Canada were sanctioned over a multimillion-dollar fraud stemming from their activities before and during the time they taught “Creative Financing” for Trump U, a joint investigation by The Associated Press and The Canadian Press finds.

Records show the couple, under the names Dave Ravindra and Rita Bahadur, taught the course in 2010, shortly before Donald Trump’s namesake real-estate seminars folded under mounting complaints from former students and inquiries from U.S. regulators.

The names match known aliases used by Ravindra Dave, 59, and Chandramattie Dave, 55, according to Canadian authorities.

The Ontario Securities Commission concluded last year that the Daves defrauded numerous Canadian investors between 2009 and 2012. Records also show that “Dave Ravindra” was stripped of his license to practice real estate in Ontario in 2008, two years before he went to work for Trump University.

The Daves, who immigrated to Canada from Guyana decades ago, have filed for personal bankruptcy at least four times since 2001 — twice by him, and twice by her, records show. Government records list at least nine different names used by the couple, a mix of pseudonyms that include various combinations mixing the order of their first, middle and last names.

The case shows that in both countries, Trump sold people on the idea that he had hand-picked winners who could show them the path to wealth. But the Daves — who’d already declared two bankruptcies and had a real-estate license stripped before they joined the program, are only the latest examples of instructors with a fraught past.

AP reported last month that the roster of Trump University speakers and staff included at least four convicted felons. Among them: a Florida cocaine trafficker and a former Army sergeant from Georgia court-martialed for sexually assaulting the 8-year-old daughter of a fellow soldier.

Half the 68 former Trump University staffers whose backgrounds the AP reviewed had personal bankruptcies, home foreclosures, credit card defaults, tax liens or other indicators of significant money troubles prior to teaching Trump University courses promoting wealth building.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued in 2013, alleging that Trump University was a “fraud from beginning to end,” geared toward pressuring cash-strapped students into buying ever more expensive seminars. In California, two federal class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of former students. One is headed to trial Nov. 28, three weeks after the presidential election.

Jill Martin, a Trump Organization lawyer defending Trump against the lawsuit, did not respond to calls and emails. Trump’s presidential campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, also did not respond.

Martin previously accused AP of “cherry picking” ex-staffers with criminal histories and said those individuals were “not representative of the professional instruction staff engaged by Trump University.”

Ravindra and Chandramattie Dave used various pseudonyms over the years to teach high-energy real-estate seminars, according to the settlement agreement with the stock-market regulator in Canada’s most populous province. The couple held events in hotel and conference rooms around the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, where investors were invited to participate in different ventures.

She sometimes used Rita Bahadur, and he regularly presented himself as Dave Ravindra — the names listed as a Trump University speaker and staff member on some of the more than 21,000 pages of student surveys that Trump released as part of his defense against three ongoing lawsuits. Trump cited the surveys to back his claim that most seminar participants were satisfied.

The couple taught three-day retreats for Trump titled “Creative Financing” and “Lease Option Real Estate” in Toronto and Vancouver, according to student surveys giving them top ratings as “subject matter experts.”

According to an August 2015 settlement agreement with the Ontario Securities Commission, Ravindra Dave started two investment companies more than a decade ago that never properly registered with regulators and sold securities without permission. The couple organized real-estate seminars in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia where they urged people to invest with them, promising fixed annual returns of at least 10 percent.

At least 34 investors in Ontario purchased these unregistered securities for approximately $5.4 million, or about $4 million in U.S. currency.

Records show those investors wound up losing most of that money. About $1 million went to companies the couple controlled, $750,000 went to family members, $150,000 paid down credit-card bills, and $90,000 went to their mortgage payments, according to the 2015 settlement.

A former investor trying to recover some of her money from the Daves declined to discuss the case, citing ongoing litigation. Linda Stark, a retiree who lives in the same suburban Toronto neighborhood, would say only that the episode has taken a financial and emotional toll on her family.

The agreement with the Ontario Securities Commission laid out 29 different penalties against the couple — a $300,000 fine, $25,000 in administrative costs, $3.3 million to be disbursed to injured parties and a slew of restrictions on their trading activity.

Chandramattie Dave is permanently banned from trading securities, and Ravindra Dave is banned for 20 years in penalties that apply elsewhere in Canada. They cannot manage investment funds, nor can they serve as directors or officers for securities-issuing companies.

Efforts by The Canadian Press to reach the Daves for comment through their listed phone numbers, email addresses and social media pages were unsuccessful.

The family’s four-bedroom, four-bath home in Mississauga was also seized, although municipal officials said the couple’s most recent bankruptcy filings forestalled a planned auction on the house.

A neighbor said the couple had recently packed up and moved a few doors down the same street into a home with their daughter. When a reporter visited that home Thursday night, the lights were out and no one answered the door.

Records show the Daves still owe more than $3.6 million in delinquent penalties and fines.

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Alexander Panetta is the Washington correspondent for The Canadian Press. Charmaine Noronha in Mississauga, Ontario, contributed to this report.

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Follow Associated Press reporter Michael Biesecker at http://Twitter.com/mbieseck

 

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