At certain times, woven between stories about the local Junior "A" hockey team, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, and buy and sell advertisements offering snowmobile parts and used automobiles, articles concerning companies with publicly traded shares appear in town's only newspaper, The Northern News. Among the companies the Kirkland Lake newspaper has written, or published, articles about in recent years include Orefinders Resources Inc. (TSXV: ORX), BonTerra Resources Inc. (TSXV: BTR), Kerr Mines Inc. (formerly Armistice Resources) (TSX: KER), and Northern Gold Mining Inc.
On July 11, when The Northern News announced that Orefinders was moving into "limited production" there was no mention of the shares' performance, down over 90 percent, since 2013. Similarly, shares in BonTerra are down over 90 percent, since 2009, the earliest data available with Yahoo Finance, yet there was no mention of this on August 22, when the Northern News headlined the company's equity deal. BonTerra shares are down about 40 percent since then.
Why so many Kirkland Lake penny stock articles?
Having legitimate-looking "news" stories appearing in the local paper would seem to be a powerful tool among those available to penny stock distributors, such as Mr. Smith, described in part two of this series. However, a group with the knowledge to successfully distribute penny stocks that routinely go on to lose most of their value that also has a newspaper at its disposal might seem capable of more grandiose schemes.
Fact: in 2011, Kirkland Lake Town Councillor Todd Morgan, and former Armistice CEO, was quoted in the Northern News, and other publications, stating the company's Larder Lake, located just east of Kirkland Lake, property would be going into production within the year, and that the firm would be hiring 100 employees.
Within weeks of Morgan making statements that Armistice was shipping ore, he unceremoniously stepped down from his position, the company changed its name to Kerr, and the stock lost almost all of its value.
More than one mining supply company in Kirkland Lake would seem to have potentially been the recipient of increased sales as a result of government-funded training programs, looking to place miners in jobs that never materialized. It might seem naive to think that in a small town like Kirkland Lake that a town councilor and CEO of a mining company reporting that it is going into production would not know owners of mining supply companies, if not have close, personal relationships with them.
Workers trained for nonexistent jobs?
The CBC has reported that, in 2015, the Government of Ontario paid over $1 billion to retrain workers, but that less than 15 percent found work in the fields they were trained for. Considering the situation in Kirkland Lake surrounding Todd Morgan and Kerr (formerly Armistice), one might be able to glean a better understanding of the dynamics leading to such reports..
Kerr (formerly Armistice) shares are down 98.9 percent since late 2007 and has less than ten employees, one of whom is recently hired lawyer, Richard Patricio. Whatever it was that Todd Morgan envisioned, it did not come to fruition; shareholders have been burned, in a quantifiable way. The government has probably paid out good sums of money to train workers and buy equipment. The Larder Lake mine is not in production. One-hundred workers aren't working.
Could penny stocks schemes have become so grand that they are now designed to defraud government programs too? Does The Northern News accept payment or stock to print articles? Could a program designed to deceive investors also deceive the government? Could government officials and employees be involved? What is a "flow-through" investment? The government wouldn't give tax breaks to people who buy private placements? Would they? #Business