movie | “The Norbourg scandal would not have happened in 2022”

“The Norbourg scandal would not have happened in 2022,” believes Yvon Laprade, journalist and author of the book The autopsy of the Norbourg scandalpublished in 2009.

Posted at 7:00 am

Richard Dufour

Richard Dufour
The press

This book served as a template for the film Norburg in theaters across Quebec this month to tell the story of this scam valued at more than $100 million that has scammed more than 9,000 small savers.

The film recaps in two hours what the ex-president of Norbourg, Vincent Lacroix, and his accomplice Éric Asselin managed to do with the help of shenanigans and shenanigans.

“The film is realistic. I can’t say it’s fiction. That’s pretty close to reality,” says Yvon Laprade, who served as a consultant to the film’s screenwriter.

While there will always be tricksters willing to break the rules, the reality of the financial world is different than it was in the early 2000s when Vincent Lacroix managed to embezzle money with the help of Eric Asselin.

“Back then we were less equipped and less aware of many problems,” says Yvon Laprade.

The Quebec Securities Commission did not have the same scope of investigation as the Autorité des Marchés Financiers does today. I’m not sure Vincent Lacroix could have survived very long in 2022 with such a plan.

Yvon Laprade, journalist and author of The autopsy of the Norbourg scandal

This scandal could have been avoided if the authorities had been more vigilant, says Yvon Laprade.

Lack of vigilance

“Investigations that were unsuccessful, the stores of value that sent money without any scrutiny, the Caisse de dépôt that sold its Evolution funds to Lacroix without asking too many questions, etc., all of this is discussed in the film, but the film could have insisted more on the lack of vigilance and control at the time. The financial world was somewhat looser when it came to regulating the markets. There was a lack of rigor. Everyone was a bit casual. »

Appreciating the film as a whole, Yvon Laprade does not hesitate to be critical. “There are certainly shortcuts, but it’s still a story that holds together,” says the man who has spent countless hours conducting interviews and delving into the case of his book.

“Vincent Lacroix survived thanks to an investigator [Éric Asselin] who went to the Norbourg camp. This is the big chunk. The movie shows it. We can see that it’s thanks to Asselin. But Asselin’s personality is even stronger than the film projects,” he says.

“Asselin is portrayed as a profiteer who needs money and works a lot for cash. He’s actually more vindictive than in the movie. I’m not saying that the film makes the two characters more likeable, I would say that Asselin doesn’t have a lot of moral values. He’s more of an upstart. In the film he feels a bit more tormented at times, while from what I’ve been able to understand, see and document he was more of a bright mind. »


PHOTO PATRICK SANFAÇON, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Vincent Lacroix arrives at his transitional home following his release on January 27, 2011.

The cheater’s face

Yvon Laprade says that there seems little talk of a 130 million scam these days. “What keeps us talking is that we put a face to a scammer. We saw a little man from Magog, a French-speaking Quebecer we could know, a Quebec man who wanted to be a financial star, not Earl Jones or Bernie Madoff,” he said.

“Norbourg wanted to be a rising star. Many people had invested in Quebec because the Caisse de depot owned the Evolution funds bought by Norbourg. The victims weren’t looking for a 20% return. They were presented with a fait accompli. The imagination is strong. »

Éric Asselin was Vincent Lacroix’s right and left arm. Yvon Laprade says he became the person who protected Lacroix from the investigation and was his protector for a lot of money.

“He was brilliant, Asselin. He knew the mechanisms and avoided the pitfalls. He became his left arm when the AMF resumed the CVMQ investigation and sent subpoenas to Lacroix and Asselin. It was at this point that Asselin realized the noose was tightening and he reported Lacroix to the RCMP to avoid prosecution. »

Éric Asselin is portrayed in the thriller as a manipulator who shows Lacroix’s mistakes with the trips to the dancers, at Parée, his megalomania (with a branch in Switzerland), the many drunk evenings in the restaurant, the drains, the shiny headquarters downtown, manipulating numbers to prevent investigators from seeing reality, and so on.

The film opens on Friday April 22nd. The theatrical release comes at a time when the Autorité des Marchés Financiers is increasingly warning small investors about bandits, especially in connection with cryptoassets. You may have heard one of the many AMF commercials on the radio saying, “Are you interested in cryptos? Also scammers. »

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